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Full text of "Napoleon at the Boulogne Camp; (based on numerous hitherto unpublished documents);"

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(After a Painting by H. W. B. Davis, R.A.) 











THE reasons which induced me to publish the present 
work are briefly these : My father was a Boulonnais, and 
owner of the land historically famous for its associations 
with Bonaparte and Bruix. I have therefore in my pos- 
session a number of documents, hitherto unpublished, 
concerning the Camp of Boulogne. 

Besides this, during the many years spent on my 
father's property at the Plateau d'Odre, I have had many 
opportunities of acquiring information and collecting 
circumstantial evidence on the spot itself, from old men 
who had seen and talked with Napoleon, and had served 
under him. 

When writing these pages, in full view of the splendid 
panorama of the Boulogne roadstead, and from the top 
of the very cliff on which Napoleon and the Commander 
of the Flotilla had once taken up their quarters, I could not 
help thinking that the narrative of former events and of 
memorable incidents would certainly be of psychological 
interest to the public. 

Added to this, it seemed to me that a faithful record 
of typical details connected with Napoleon's Camp at 
Boulogne, might even prove a useful contribution to the 
military history of that period, in which the extra- 
ordinarj' and fertile activity of Napoleon seconded by 
the ardour, so typical, of his soldiers and sailors had 
inspired England with fear, and served to organise an 
incomparable army. 




THIS reproduction of an early study by the artist, on the site 
of Napoleon's Camp at Boulogne, will give the reader a good 
idea of that part of the Iron Coast that lay between Boulogne 
and Cape Gris-Nez, presenting its armed front towards the 
cliffs of England, frequently quite visible on the horizon. 
During the Crimean War, Napoleon III. re-established the 
Camp on the very ground occupied by the Grand Army in 1803- 
1805, for it was his policy to keep up the Napoleonic tradition 
by reviving memories connected with the First Empire. The 
small wood-and-mud structure shown in the picture was what 
remained in 1858 when the study was painted of a small 
chapel, from which Mass was celebrated before the assembled 
troops during the second Boulogne Camp. 

The little town just discernible half-way along the coast- 
line is Ambleteuse, whose history is closely connected with 
England. For several centuries before it became a point of con- 
centration for Napoleon's expeditionary forces, it had been 
one of the chief ports for_ communication with the English, 
and at one period was in their occupation. 

In the sea, off Wimereux, is the Fort de Croi, mentioned in 
the text. The headland stretching far out into the sea, beyond 
Ambleteuse, is Cape Gris-Nez, the nearest point to England, 
and one of great importance in Napoleon's organisation of 
defence against any attack from the English squadrons. The 
old shepherd standing in the foreground had been one of 
Napoleon's veterans, and wore the St. Helena medal. He made 
great friends with the artist, and was always ready to give his 
recollections of the stirring times in which he had played a 
modest part. He had been one of the garrison of Flushing, 
and related, in the simple language of the French peasant, 
the many difficulties that the English had to overcome in 
their attack of the place, and how little the French soldiers 
believed in the possibility of its ever falling into the hands of 
the enemy. His comments on the result of the operations were 
brief, but suggestive: "Mais ils 1'ont prin tout-de-meme ! " * 

G. L. D. 

* But "they took it, all the same ! 



PREPACK .......... v 



L' Hotel des Androuins The Chiiteau de Pont-de-Briques 
Roustan's bedroom Description of the Emperor's Pavilion 
Bonaparte's Post of Observation The Admiral's Pavilion 
Naval Semaphore, and the Chappe Signalling Station . I 



Archaeological Research and Recollections The Emperor's 
Pavilion on the land of the Tour du Vieil Homme The 
Herring Beacon Remains of the Tower at the Epoch of 
Boulogne Camp. . . . . . . 35 



His Visit to Terlincth-im Chapel of Jesus-Flagelle Decree 
of Floreal, Year XII. The Gardens and Swans at the Post 
of Observation Epaulettes, pigtails, beer, barrels . . 50 



Psychology of Popular Feeling Story of a Potter ; his reception 

at the Pavilion The Boulogne Ship-Boy and the Emperor 69 



The Batteries of the Iron Coast Bonaparte and the Battery of 
" Monsters " The Forge at Wimereux The dejeuner at 
Ambleteuse M. d'Offrethun's Snuff-Box The "Grand 
Army" and St. Peter's Well The First Battery at Gris-Nez 
The " i " Division at Calais . . . .78 





,The First Consul at Etaples He Visits the Chateau d'Hardelot 
The British Sailor Bonaparte falls into the Harbour His 
Wardrobe at the Tour d'Odre He Visits the Hospital ; Sister 
lyouise The Emperor Returns to Boulogne after the Coron- 
ation ; Enthusiastic Reception. ..... 103 



A Visit to the I/oppes The Royalist Wimillois Cure Patenaille 

The Wimereux Spy AJI Original Expedient . .126 



The Beautiful English Spy An Interview at the Pavilion The 
English Prisoners The Intelligence Department, Ruses and 
Methods The Cross of the Legion of Honour . .142 



Appreciation and Biography of Bruix ; His Pavilion Naval 
Incidents The Attack of 2-3 October, 1804, on the Ships 
of the Line Memorable Scenes between Bonaparte and 
Bruix Comparisons between the two Chiefs Death of 
Bruix The Meaning of the Expression " Sent to the 
Admiral" . . . . . . . . .159 





The Portus Itius and Boulogne Roadstead Comparison between 

the Roman Conquest and Napoleon's Scheme of Invasion . 190 



Modern Praams or Galleys Gunboats and Shallops Ex-Galley 
Slaves in Boulogne Retrospect on the System of Convicts on 
board the Galleys The Nutshells State of Steam Naviga- 
tion at that Period : Fulton . . . . 199 





Difference between Piracy and the Right of " Giving Chase " 
Account of Prizes captured the Boulogne Privateers, Cary, 
Pollet, and Duchenne Bucaille-Brocant interviewed by the 
Emperor Napoleon and the English sloop . . .219 



The Composition of the " Army of England " Right Camp and 
I/eft Camp Hutting and Mud Walls Grenadiers, Sailors, 
and Peasants, their good-fellowship The Marines of the 
Guard Composition of the Staff at Boulogne Camp Im- 
pressions of a Contemporary A " Velite " at the Boulogne 
Camp .......... 238 



The Stage during the First Republic Madame Angot The 
Company of the Vaudeville Theatre in Paris comes to Bou- 
logne Performance of Duguay-Trouin ; a few Extracts . 262 


Games Marching Songs Soldiers' Choruses Dances Ball at 
the Boulogne Camp " Boulogne Camp March " performed 
by the Military Bands . . . . . . .276 



The distribution of Crosses of the Legion of Honour Oath of 
the Legionaries Napoleon's Stone The Column of Napo- 
leon the Great ; and Marshal Soult The Legion of Honour 
and the Women Officers ...... 294 



Explanation of nicknames "Boney" and "Fleshy" Bonaparte 
and Gulliver Bnglish Roast Beef and Plum Pudding 
French Soup French Frog-Eaters Caricatures of the 
Flotilla, the "Grand Army," and the Intended Invasion . 317 





Admiral Bruix and the Chief of the Interpreters Cuvelier de 

Tri's Vocabulary Revised by an English Spy . . -334 



Letters Written from Pont-de-Briques, from the Pavilion Letter 
to Josephine Bonaparte's Handwriting One of the First 
Signatures of the Emperor . . . . . .348 



Was the Scheme for Crossing the Straits Capable of Realisatioi ? 
Were the Flotilla and Boulogne Camp a Pretence ? W T ht t 
did England think of the Project, and what was her attitude ? 
Opinions of Pitt, Nelson, and Sir Walter Scott Did 
Bonaparte believe in the Possibility of the Invasion ? Con- 
clusion .,.....,.. 370 


By Isabey (Versailles Collection). 




L'Hotel des Androuins The Chateau de Pont-de-Briques 
Roustan's Bedroom Description of the Emperor's Pavilion 
Bonaparte's Post of Observation The Admiral's Pavilion 
Naval Semaphore and the Chappe Signalling Station. 

WHEN Napoleon visited Boulogne * officially, on the 
29th June, 1803, he was quartered in one of the finest 
mansions of the Upper Town, L'Hotel des Androuins, 
so-called after its first owner, but belonging at that 
period to a M. De Menneville.f 

This residence, situated in the Place d'Armes (now 
Place Godefroy-de-Bouillon), had been specially fitted 
up for the reception of the illustrious guest. 

At a later period, it had the distinction of harbouring 
the Emperor and Empress Marie Louise, on the occasion 
of their State visit, May 25th, 1810 ; and from that date 
it was known as the " Imperial Palace." It was in 1811 
that Napoleon inhabited it for the last time (from Sep- 
tember igth to the 22nd). 

One of the evidences of the historic interest attaching 

* As will be seen in the chapter dealing with the Grande Armee, Napoleon 
had already been to Boulogne on a tour of inspection, on 22 Pluviose, Year I, 
(February loth, 1790). 

t It belongs now to the Comtesse de Plinval, by whose courtesy I was 
permitted to view the house. 


to the house, is to be seen in the State drawing-room, 
where the panels are sculptured with garlands of gilded 
laurels, which are carefully preserved. 

Adjoining the drawing-room, is the chamber which 
Bonaparte occupied ; and leading out of it, is a triangular 
passage, where, tradition says, Napoleon's faithful 
attendant Roustan, a Georgian, was wont to lie at 
night, wrapped in a blanket, keeping watch over his 


master. The passage, however, is so small that to 
enable him to lie at full length, it was necessary to open 
the door of another room. 

There is a terrace on the roof, and in those days, 
when the buildings of the Lower Town were far less 
numerous than they are at present, one could look 
over the town below, and command a good view of the 
harbour and roadstead. The First Consul, desirous of 
taking every advantage of this outlook, gave orders for 
the demolition of portions of various buildings which 
obstructed his view of the sea. 


A guard of honour, formed by a body of young 
townsmen, was stationed in front of the palace. Their 
costume was sufficiently picturesque to deserve mention : 
it consisted of scarlet dolman, white waistcoat, Nankeen 
trousers, with black stripes ; sky-blue silk sash, yellow 
plumes, hussar boots, sword and sabretache. 

The appointments and table expenses of this, and 
of another house, prepared for Bonaparte's suite, was 
defrayed by the town ; and the expenditure amounted 
to a little over 13,000 francs. 

Among those who resided with Bonaparte at the 
Hotel des Androuins were his secretary, General Duroc, 
de Beauharnais, the general on duty, two aides-de-camp, 
the Prefect, and the senior officer of the palace ; while 
others of the suite, Generals Moncey and Marmont, the 
Naval Minister and the Minister of the Interior, the 
State Councillors, Forfait, Cretet, and Bruix, were 
lodged in the other house. 

The author recently came across an old letter of 
Audience dated at this period, which was couched in 
the following terms : 

" The Prefect of the Palace has the honour of in- 
forming the Citizen Mayor of Boulogne, that he will be 
received by the First Consul this day, II. Messidor, Year 
XL, at ii o'clock in the morning. 

" Boulogne-sur-mer, Thursday, June 30th, 1803, V.S.* 

It would be no easy task to give an adequate idea 
of the enthusiasm with which the people greeted .the 
hero of Italy and Egypt, on his first visit to Boulogne. 
Triumphal arches were raised in his honour ; and from 
the Place St. Nicholas to the Esplanade, columns 
and pyramids of foliage were erected, and flowers were 

* V.S. Abbreviation of " Vieux Style " (Old Style). 


strewn along the road the conqueror was to take. At 
night the whole town was illuminated. 

Moriseigneur de la Tour d'Auvergne, the Bishop of 
Arras, came to pay his tribute of respect, and to thank 
the First Consul publicly : 

" In this diocese, your Bishop of Anas glories in 
the privilege of adding to the number of Napoleon's ad- 
herents. He fully appreciates the inestimable benefit 
conferred on the country by the re-establishment of the 
religion of our forefathers. So great is my joy in dis- 
charging the debt of gratitude we all owe him, that I can- 
not refrain from entreating his gracious acceptance of 
our homage and love. . ... All my clergy share these 

Such were the sentiments expressed by the head of 
the diocese. 

As for the speech pronounced by the Prefect of the 
Pas-de-Calais, Lachaise, it attained the very height of 
rhapsody. The following is copied from the text itself : 

" Citizen First Consul, we have scarce had time to 
realise the presence of your august person in our midst, 
and already the whole of the department of the Pas-de- 
Calais is thrilling with joy. The soil which for so long 
has proved fatal to its children, has at last purged itself 
of the poisonous germs which have produced such mon- 
sters* It can now boast of five hundred thousand loyal 
and true French citizens, all of them eager to devote their 
hearts, their arms, and their fortunes to your service. Con- 
fident in our destiny, we now know that in order to secure 
the glory and happiness of France, to ensure to all Nations 
freedom of trade and of the sea ; in order to humiliate 
the daring disturbers of peace in the old and new world, 

* Some of the more notorious among the Terrorists were natives of the 
Pas-de-Calais. (Translator's note.) 


and to establish it firmly on earth, God created Bonaparte, 
and rested" 

It would be difficult, I think, to surpass this unre- 
strained hyperbole. 

On this occasion, the First Consul's visit was very 
short, but having in view the important works of which 
Boulogne was so soon to become the centre, he thought 
it expedient to secure a second residence. 


Besides his pavilion at the Tour d'Odre, of which 
I shall speak presently, he determined to establish new 
quarters for himself and his military staff in another 
part of the district. Accordingly, the Chateau de 
Pont-de-Briques, belonging to a family of the name 
of Patras de Campaigno,* was selected for the con- 
venience of its situation, and became the headquarters 
of Napoleon, who resided alternately there and at the 
Tour d'Odre. 

One of the advantages which recommended the 

* The De Campaignos have given several Seneschals to Boulogne. 


Chateau * to Napoleon, was that it stood about two and 
a half miles distant from Boulogne, on the high road to 
Paris. This enabled the First Consul to arrive at night- 
time, on those surprise visits by which he was wont to 
test the efficiency of his lieutenants. 

By dawn the next day he would mount his horse, 
and appear unexpectedly in some particular building- 
yard, or at some strategic point along the coast, which 
he wished personally and closely to inspect. 

I have, as I write, different statements as to the dates 
of his actual known visits,! but it is more than probable 
that his sudden and unlooked-for appearances were far 
more frequent than is generally supposed. 

Indeed, if we study the Orders of the Day, or letters 
written by his generals and ministers, and especially 
the notices in the official journal, we see that Bonaparte 
refrained from giving information of his movements to 
the public. The gazettes of the period were at liberty to 
mention his absences from Paris, but any allusion to the 
object of his journey was rarely permitted. 

Napoleon's valet throws interesting light on his 
master's reserve. He writes : " The Emperor maintained, 
as a rule, the utmost secrecy concerning his journeys 
up to the last moment before his departure ; and would 
order horses at midnight, to travel to Milan or Mayence, 
as though he were about to take a drive to Saint Cloud 
or Rambouillet." 

It would be useless, therefore, to depend solely upon 
the notices in the Moniteur and other papers, in estimating 
the number of days Bonaparte spent at Boulogne. 

* From a collection of Orders of the Day, it appears that Joseph Bona- 
parte also came to Pont-de-Briques, on 9 Floreal, XII. (April 28th, 1804). 

t A Boulonnais given to research, Mr. Lefebvre, has traced Napoleon's 
presence on the following dates : Feb. 10, 1798 ; June 29 to July i, 1803 ; 
Nov. 4 to 17, 1803 ; January i to 5, 1804 ; July 19, 1804 ; August, 1804 ; 
Aug. 3 to Sept. 2, 1805 ; May 25 to 26, 1810 ; Sept. 19 to 22, 1812. 


As far back as 1800, the First Consul had declared, 
" \Yere I to give loose reins to the Press, I should not 
remain in power three months ! " Accordingly, on the 
27th Nivose, Year VII., the Consuls, at Fouche's instiga- 
tion, issued an order suppressing sixty newspapers out of 
the seventy-three then in existence. The Moniteur only 
mentioned Bonaparte when it was authorised to do so ; 
as for the other organs they merely copied the official 
information contained in the Moniteur, and the press 
resigned itself to being colourless, for fear of becoming 

The following is a list of the thirteen newspapers 
which, in 1800, were tolerated, but kept under the 
supervision of the Press Bureau : Le Moniteur, Les 
Debdts, Le Journal de Paris, Le Bien Informe, Le Pub- 
liciste, Uami des Lois, La Clef du Cabinet des Souverains, 
Le Citoyen Fran^ais, Le Journal des Hommes Libres, Le 
Journal du Soir, Le Journal des defenseurs de la Patrie, 
La Dc'cade Philosophique, La Gazette de France. 

In 1805, Napoleon, having had reason to complain 
of certain indiscretions in the papers concerning his 
movements and actions, wrote to the Minister of Justice : 

f Give the Editors to understand that I shall end by 
retaining one newspaper only." 

The Chateau de Pont-de-Briques, which Napoleon 
was able to reach so easily before anyone was aware of 
his intention to do so, has now been transformed into 
an agricultural institution.* I was anxious to go over 
it in detail, because the memories connected with it are 
well worth preserving. 

The entrance gate is flanked by two massive square 
towers, resembling gigantic sentry boxes. The stables, 

* Now the Beaucerf Catholic Orphanage. Before this the'domain was 
called " Chateau de Clocheville," after one of its owners, who purchased 
it in 1810. 


and the coach-house which sheltered Napoleon's travelling 
coach, were still standing in 1904, on the right of the 
spacious courtyard, but these have since been demolished. 

The chateau itself has a fine fagade and two important 
wings. The ground floor has a spacious dining-room 
and several rooms used for domestic purposes. A stone 
staircase leads up to the first floor, and there we find 
ourselves in a long gallery, which still contains the large 
wardrobes put up for the Empress's use. To the right is 
a room called " Josephine's Chamber," but the tapestries 
which once adorned it have been removed. Adjoining, 
is the room which was occupied by the women-in- 

To the left of the gallery there is a sitting-room five 
metres square, with a stone balcony overlooking the 
park ; it was here that Napoleon is said to have dictated 
straight off, while pacing to and fro, the famous campaign 
of 1805, just previous to quitting the regions of the 

Passing through this apartment, we come to the so- 
called Imperial Chamber, an unpretentious-looking room, 
four metres by three, and entirely devoid of ornamentation. 
It had four windows, two overlooking the court, the 
others opening on to the garden, and an alcove for 
the bed. Behind the chamber is a closet, furnished with 
coat stands, which was used as a cloak room. A passage 
running by the side of the closet leads to the room that 
was occupied by Roustan, in which a small flight of 
stairs was contrived, and carefully concealed in the 
woodwork ; this was to enable Bonaparte to go in 
and out of his private apartments without having to 
use the central staircase. 

Inside the woodwork put up to conceal the secret 
stairs, there was a space of about one metre square, 
forming a sort of locker, which served to hide the bed 


of the faithful Mameluke. His couch was a somewhat 
.primitive one, fashioned out of coarse canvas stretched 
over a wooden frame, and was divided into two parts, 
connected by a couple of strong hinges. By this arrange- 
ment, one third of the bed stood in the recess, and 
during the day 
the second por- 
tion was folded 
over the first 
and shut up in- 
side the cup- 
board ; so that 
both bed and 
flight of stairs 
were invisible. 
At night the bed 
was dropped, 
and was sup- 
ported by means 
of two jointed 
metal rods. 

It appears, 
however, that 
Roustan gener- 
ally preferred to 
stretch himself 
across the door- 
way leading to 

his master's apartment, so as to make his guard more 
efficient still, in case of emergency. 

Above the apartments occupied by Napoleon, we 
can see the " Marshals' Council Room," which is really 
nothing more than the attic to the chateau. The stair- 
case that leads up to it has been altered since those days, 
but the one which existed then was so low, that it was 

Secret Staircase leading to the Emperor's Private 


necessary to remove one's hat before attempting the 
ascent. The officers' rooms, or so-called " Marshals' 
chambers," consisted of three small apartments about 
three metres square, with an alcove. Few servants 
nowadays would be content with such wretched quarters 
under the roof. The only ornaments the rooms possessed 
were a few pegs on the wall, for hanging clothes. 

Who was this Roustan, who was always seen with 
Napoleon ? The Emperor's valet, Constant, alludes in 
his memoirs -to " this former slave of the East, who 
became the watch-dog of the great conqueror." 

The following biographical notice is all the more 
interesting from the fact that Constant was Roustan's 
intimate friend. 

" Roustan," he writes, " better known as the 
Emperor's Mameluke, was born of a good family in 
Georgia ; at the age of six he was kidnapped and 
taken to Cairo, where he was brought up with other 
young slaves, who were trained to wait upon the Mame- 
lukes until old enough to serve themselves in the formid- 
able corps of warriors. When the Sheik of Cairo pre- 
sented General Bonaparte with a magnificent Arab horse, 
he also gave him Roustan and another Mameluke, 
Ibrahim, who was attached to the service of Madame 
Bonaparte under the name of Ali. Roustan became a 
familiar show figure whenever the Emperor appeared 
in public. He was present on every journey, in every 
procession, and, to his honour, be it said, in every battle. 
Arrayed in his gorgeous oriental dress, he was the most 
resplendent-looking personage of the brilliant staff that 
followed the Emperor. His appearance had a prodigious 
effect on the crowd, especially in the provinces. He was 
supposed to have great influence with the Emperor, and 
this belief, on the part of credulous people, was founded 
on the report that he had once saved his master's life 


by throwing himself between him and an enemy's sword. 
I believe this to be a fable. The particular favour 
Roustan enjoyed was but the natural result of his Majesty's 
habitual kindness to those who served him ; besides, this 
favour did not extend beyond the limit of domestic matters. 
Roustan married Madlle. Douville, a pretty young French 
woman, daughter of the Empress Josephine's valet. 

"In 1814 and 1815 Roustan was reproached by the 
Press for declining to follow the master for whom he 
had always professed the highest devotion ; his reply to 
this charge was ' that the family ties he had contracted 
in France forbade his leaving the country, and breaking 
up the happiness of his home.' 

"After his marriage. Roustan retired to Dourdan (Seine- 
et-Oise), having spent sixteen years in Napoleon's service." 

We are indebted to Mr. Joseph Guyot, owner of the 
Chateau de Dourdan, for a few supplementary notes 
concerning the " Mameluke." He was short, thick-set, 
and of herculean strength, but his intelligence was dull, 
rather than quick. He was a Roman Catholic, and was 
on terms of friendship with the Cure of his parish. 
Nothing pleased him more than to entertain the inhabi- 
tants of Dourdan with accounts of the functions and 
duties of his former office. 

It was his business to place each night by the Em- 
peror's bedside, a cold chicken, by way of collation, in 
case of emergency ; but it was almost always left intact. 
One night, Roustan, being seized with a sudden fit of 
hunger, rose very quietly, and taking infinite precautions, 
no doubt, not to arouse his master, tore off a succulent 
wing, and devoured it noiselessly. But, alas ! as fate 
would have it, Napoleon also felt hungry that night, 
and, calling for Roustan, he asked for the chicken. The 
poor fellow, thinking it was all up with him, fell on his 
knees and implored his master's pardon, in tones of such 


excessive despair, that the Emperor could not refrain 
from laughing, and forgave him ; not, however, without 
severely pinching his ear, so as to impress on him the 
desirability of being more discreet in the future. 

Roustan had a way, peculiar to himself, of describing 
the battles in which he had taken part ; he was frequently 
asked to tell these stories, and he always did so, in a solemn 
and dramatic manner. As a rule he was sweet-tempered, 
but very sensitive on the subject of his duty as guard of 
the Emperor, and could not endure the slightest allusion 
to the canine fidelity, as such, that he displayed in the 
exercise of his functions. 

One day, for example, in Dourdan, a young fellow 
taunted him, as he passed, with an exclamation of 
" Medor." * Roustan turned sharply, leapt like a 
wounded panther on the man who had insulted him, 
and nearly strangled him, with a grip like a vice. 

My correspondent recollects Roustan attending 
Napoleon at a wolf-hunt in the forest of Dourdan, and 
adds, " I have copied these epitaphs from our cemetery 
of Dourdan ; the first is Rous tan's " : 













There is no date. 

* In France this is a familiar name for a dog. (Translator's note.) 


The epitaph on his wife's grave reads thus : 








Both monuments consist of a slab of stone, engraved 
with a cross, and below are the words, "De Profundis." 

Whenever Napoleon came to Boulogne he wore a 
velvet cap, when travelling at night ; these caps were 
made light for summer wear, and in winter they 
were lined with fur. From the Budget we learn that 
" 2 unlined caps cost 21 francs, and mending the same 
3 francs." The toques made for the Mameluke Roust an 
cost 312 francs apiece, according to the National Archives. 
They were of "crimson velvet with a border of gold 
stars." But these were ordered for State occasions, 
and we must presume that he wore others less costly 
when he passed the night in his master's carriage. 

During the Consular period, as well as under the 
Empire, Napoleon of course always appeared before the 
troops wearing the traditional hat in which he is generally 
represented. It was made of black felt without any 
border, or gold lace ; it merely had the tricolour cockade, 
supported by a piece of black silk braid. 

One of these hats can be seen at the Boulogne 
Museum, the De Clocheville family having presented it to 
that institution. It appears that on the day Napoleon 
was leaving the Chateau de Pont-de-Briques to distribute 
the crosses of the Legion of Honour to the camp at 
Boulogne, he exchanged his old hat for a new one, and 


left the first behind, where it was afterwards found by 
the new owners of the house. 

There are many similar hats, whose authenticity is 
above suspicion, to be seen at the Invalides, and in public 
and private museums all over the country. 

How is it that they are so numerous ? 

A patient chronicler * who has taken the trouble to 
sift the official accounts, declares that he discovered in 
the National Library no less than nineteen different bills 
for hats supplied to the Emperor in one year alone. 
Putting it at an average of eight hats a year, he arrives 
at the conclusion that from 1800 to 1815, 120 hats were 
made for Napoleon. The average price for each hat 
was 60 francs. 

Constant writes : "As the Emperor was very sensitive 
about the head, I always had his hats interlined with 
wadding, and took care to wear them myself, in private, 
for a few days before he put them on, so as to stretch 
them for his use." 

It was always a source of delight to the people of 
Boulogne when they caught a glimpse of the famous 
" redingote grise " (grey coat), but it was Roustan's 
superb Greek costume which fascinated every eye when 
he appeared. 

A memorandum, copied from the National Archives, 
will give an idea of the outlay expended on this 

The tailor Chevalier's account for one costume 
supplied, runs thus : "5 Ells Louviers cloth for a 
complete Greek costume, at 66 francs per ell ; Embroidery 
for 2 waistcoats and one pair of trousers, 380 francs. 
Making, and extras, 32 francs. Total, 742 francs. Also 
one best toque, 312 francs, and one pair of top boots, 
80 francs." 

* M. Maze-Sender. 


On occasions of great ceremony, Roustan was dressed 
still more splendidly. In 1804, for instance, the Emperor 
ordered two costumes for him to wear at the coronation 
ceremonies. One of these, a Mameluke's dress, was 
made by Sandoz, a tailor in the Rue de Seine, and cost 
2,450 francs ; it consisted of a dolman in green velvet, 
a sabretache in amaranth poult-de-Soie ; the loose breeches 
were of the finest cloth, and the sash of straw-coloured 
muslin ; the whole costume was richly embroidered in 
fine gold, with pearls and spangles. 

The other was a Greek dress, designed and made by 
Chevalier. The materials used in the making were 
5 ells Louviers cloth, blue and scarlet, at 58 francs the ell. 
The embroidery on the scarlet waistcoat was estimated 
at 4,500 francs. The turban and sash embroidered 
with " paillettes," 755 francs. The total amount was 
6,653 francs ; but as this charge was considered excessive, 
it was reduced to 5,800 francs (National Archives). 
And this is by no means the end of the expenditure, for 
we must include the 360 francs paid to Poupart, the 
hatter, for a sword-belt, scarlet and gold, and a gold- 
embroidered cartridge pouch ; and further, the sum of 
115 francs claimed by the Emperor's bootmaker, Jacques, 
for supplying a pair of top boots in red Morocco leather, 
trimmed with gold lace and tassels, after a design by 
Isabey ; and a pair of red shoes to be worn the day 
after the coronation. 

When there was no occasion for Roustan to appear 
in state, he wore breeches costing 80 francs, and a box- 
coat worth 1 80 francs. 

In the travelling service were included vans, gigs, 
and mail coaches ; but for long distances, as, for instance, 
the journey from Paris, or Saint Cloud, to Boulogne, 
Napoleon made use of large coaches, drawn by two or 
four horses, built to accommodate six people, and sufft- 


ciently comfortable to enable him to pass the night in 
them, and thereby economise time. 

In the Civil Register of the Commune of St. Leonard, 
to which Pont-de-Briques belonged, there is an entry, 
dated 2gth Brumaire, XII. (Nov. 2oth, 1804), of the birth 
of " Jeanne le Cointre, daughter of the lodge-keeper, at 
the house of M. de Campeigno, now inhabited by the 
First Consul." 

And in the Marriage Register is an Act signed by 
Trousse (24 Pluv., XII., Feb. I2th, 1804), a gunner in 
the 7th Regiment of Artillery, who has among his 
witnesses " Louis Mottelet, postilion to the First Consul." 

The 150,000 infantry and 90,000 cavalry of which 
the Boulogne army was composed, were divided into four 
camps : the right and left camps, the Wimereux camp, 
and the camp of Ambleteuse. 

In the right camp, they had erected pavilions on the 
summit of the Odre Cliff for the Emperor, Admiral 
Bruix,* Marshal Soult, and Decres, Minister of Marine. 
The Imperial pavilion was so situated that Napoleon 
could see almost at one glance, the town, harbour, and 
all the camps. It has been various writers,f 
but by putting together and condensing the details 
given by the different authors and contemporary docu- 
ments, I am able to give the following information : 

The ground on which it stood had been bought 
from a widow, Madame Delporte ; this is mentioned in 
an official report drawn up on March 8th, 1810, for 
the purpose of fixing an indemnity due to the pro- 
prietors whose grazing lands were occupied by the 

* The admiral's pavilion stood on the piece of land now called " Enclos 
de 1'Admiral " (admiral's enclosure), belonging to Fernand Nicolay. 

t One description is by Constant ; another by Marco de Saint Hilaire, 
an ex-page of the Emperor. See also " Precis de 1'Histoire de Boulogne," 
by Bertrand ; " Hist, de Boulogne," by Hautefeuille and Bernard ; " Annee 
historique," by Morand, etc. 


right camp, and the troops stationed around Maquetra 
and Ostrohove. 

The building was constructed within forty-eight 
hours, for the requisite timber had been prepared be- 
forehand, and the frame-work fitted, with the admirable 
science and precision which characterises the work of 
engineers. The foundation timbers were fixed in a 
firm basement of brickwork for, as Louis Nicolay re- 
marked in 1864, " Anyone knowing the position, would 
understand that a wooden house 40 metres long, erected 
in the most exposed part of the summit of a cliff, could 
not possibly resist a strong wind, unless it were solidly 
founded on brickwork." 

About the same date M. Florentin Lefils wrote : 
" Not long ago there were still some fragments to 
be seen of the masonry which had formed the basement 
of the ' Baraque.' These remains, which were an 
object of veneration to native and stranger alike, have 
recently been levelled by spade and mattock." 

Marco de Saint Hilaire gives the following detail : 
'' While the soldiers were excavating the ground for 
the foundations of the ' Baraque,' they came upon the 
remains of some ancient fortifications connected with 
the Roman Tower of Caligula, and this was looked upon 
as a good omen." 

The Emperor's pavilion, or " Baraque," was erected 
under the supervision of M. Sordi, who had been appointed 
chief engineer of military communications. It was 100 feet 
in length and 22^ feet in width ; the extremity which 
overlooked the harbour was shaped like a rotunda, and 
was 30 feet in diameter. It was built entirely of wood, 
like the wooden huts of a fair, only the planks were 
carefully finished off, and painted light grey. Its form 
was rectangular, terminated at each end by a semi- 
circular annexe. The ground immediately around was 


railed off by a wooden fence, and lighted after dark 
by reflector lamps placed at a distance of four feet from 
each other. The windows were placed laterally. On 
the side which faced the sea, the pavilion consisted of 
three rooms and a passage. The principal room, which 
was used for the Council meetings, was hung with a 
silver-grey paper ; the painted ceiling represented golden 
clouds in an azure sky, in which an eagle with a thunder- 
bolt was seen directing its flight towards England, 
guided by Napoleon's star. In the middle of the room 
stood a large oval table, having a cover of plain 
green cloth with no fringe. The only chair at the table 
was his Majesty's ; it was made of perfectly plain wood, 
stuffed with horsehair, covered with green morocco, 
and could be taken to pieces when necessary. On 
the table stood an inkstand 'and powder-box made 
of boxwood ; half a dozen brass candlesticks ; sheets of 
paper of all sizes, and quill pens ready cut. A huge 
map of the coast of the Channel hung on the wall. This 
is all the furniture there was in the Council Chamber, 
in which no one was allowed to sit down, save his Majesty, 
the generals having to stand in front of him with no 
other support than the hilts of their swords, during the 
whole of the meetings, which lasted, sometimes three or 
four hours. 

To reach the Council Room it was necessary to go 
through a passage, and to the right of this passage was 
his Majesty's bedroom. It had a glazed door, and one 
window looking out towards the right camp, from which 
the sea was also visible to the left. The Emperor's bed 
was made of iron, rather less than a metre in width, and 
had a large curtain of plain green sarsenet hanging from 
a brass ring fixed in the ceiling. The bed had a horse- 
hair mattress, two upper mattresses, a couple of bolsters, 
both very high and stiff, placed one at the head and the 


other at the foot of the bed, no pillow, a white cotton 
coverlet, and a wadded quilt in green sarsenet. At 
the window hung a pair of small curtains of the same 
material, and there were but two plain straw-bottomed 
chairs in the room. 

The wall-paper was rose-coloured, with a lace pattern 
and a border of Etruscan design. Next to the bed was 
a small table covered with a white cloth, and on it were 
placed a china jug and basin, with a gilt pattern, and 
various luxurious dressing-table fittings. At night 
Napoleon was in the habit of depositing on a chair by 
his bedside a candlestick, his pocket-book, made of 
green morocco with steel corners, and his snuff-box, 
placed on the top of a cambric pocket handkerchief. 
Instead of a regular nightcap he wore a red Madras 
handkerchief, which he fastened around his forehead, 
allowing the ends to hang down his neck at the back. 
An old hat hung on a nail ; it was worn and out of shape, 
,but Napoleon preferred it to any other, when he took 
an excursion far into the country, or when he visited 
the ships in the roadstead. He was constantly losing 
this hat, either the wind carried it away, or it fell into 
the sea, but it was always brought back to him faithfully, 
as though it were an object of the greatest value. Opposite 
the bedroom was another room parallel to it, in which 
they had fixed a large telescope, which had cost 12,000 
francs. This instrument was between four and five 
feet long, and one foot in diameter ; when fixed in position, 
it rested on a mahogany tripod, and the box which con- 
tained it rather resembled a piano. With the help of the 
telescope, when the horizon was clear, the Emperor, 
standing in his pavilion, could clearly distinguish the 
castle at Dover, towards which no doubt his thoughts 
turned more often even than his gaze. 

In this same room was a yellow leather coffer, resting 


on a couple of stools, which contained three complete 
suits of clothing and some linen. This was his Majesty's 
campaigning kit ; on the top of it lay a spare hat, lined 
with white satin, very much worn. The main body of 
the pavilion was divided into three apartments the 
drawing-room, a vestibule, and a large dining-room, 
which communicated with a passage parallel to the 
kitchens. Outside the pavilion, and in the direction 
of the kitchens, a small hut had been fitted up, to serve 
for laundry and washing-up purposes. 

When the Emperor entertained guests at dinner, 
" Rechaud and Fourneau " (for such, it is asserted, were 
the names of his principal stewards) superintended in 
person the preparation of the banquet, and were not 
above putting their hand to the work. 

On these occasions they worked in the open air, 
assisted by their scullions. " One day," gaily relates 
the historian, " a sudden gust of wind carried off the 
whole kitchen, including a scullion, who was never seen 
again, although he was searched for everywhere. It 
was not until long after that we heard what had be- 
fallen the poor wretch in that squall : he had become 
head cook to Lord Willy in England." 

The cellars were kept at headquarters at Pont-de- 
Briques, under the special superintendence of the chief 
steward of the cellar, M, Pfister who afterwards 
hanged himself on the grand staircase of the " dark 
passage " * at the Tuileries, in a fit of delirium. 

The sentries on special service at the pavilion were 
chosen from the Grenadiers, horse and foot, concurrently 
with the sailors. 

Admiral Bruix's pavilion was constructed on the 
same principles as the Emperor's, only on a smaller 
scale, and it was elegantly furnished. Between the 

* " Le Couloir noir." 


two pavilions they had erected the " Signal " semaphore. 
I shall speak more fully of this naval telegraphic apparatus, 
which signalled the Emperor's orders to the fleet. 

To the right of the Tour d'Odre stood Marshal 
Soult's pavilion, which closely resembled the hut of a 
savage. It was thatched down to the ground, and glazed 
at the top, to admit the light ; it had but one entrance, 
leading down into the apartments, which were all under- 
ground. The principal chamber was circular, its furniture 
consisting of a large table covered with a green cloth, and 
a few small leather camp-stools placed around. Lastly, 
there was the pavilion inhabited by Decres, Minister of 
Marine, which was planned and ordered like Marshal 
Soult's, but was less spacious and commodious ; seen 
from a distance, it looked like an enormous extinguisher. 

Before leaving Boulogne, to open the memorable 
campaign of 1805, the Emperor directed the Grand 
Marshal of the palace to settle the accounts of the 
expenditure. Sordi sent in an account of 50,000 francs,* 
for the Imperial " Baraque," which, however, the Marshal 
refused to pay, until he had his Majesty's sanction. 

" Fifty thousand francs ! " exclaimed the Emperor. 
" What are you thinking of, M. Sordi ? Why, it's 
frightful ! You shan't be paid ! " 

Abashed for a moment by this abrupt turn of affairs, 
Sordi stood speechless, not knowing exactly what to 

Fortunately the Emperor gave him an opportunity 
of recovering himself, by glancing at a map he had just 
unfolded. He then replied : " Sire, the golden clouds 
adorning the ceiling of this room " (all this was taking 
place in the Council Chamber) " and surrounding your 
Majesty's guiding star, have really cost 20,000 francs, 
but, had I consulted the wishes of your subjects, the 

* The price was reduced to 30,000 francs. 


imperial eagle represented here, and which is once more 
about to strike the enemies of France and of your throne, 
would be spreading his wings in a sky of diamonds." 

" Very good," replied the Emperor, " that's all very 
well, but you shall not be paid at present ; and since you 
assure me that that very expensive eagle is going to 
thunder-strike the Austrians, wait until he has done so, 
and I will then pay your account with the rixdollars 
of the Emperor of Germany, and the gold fredericks of 
the King of Prussia." And, picking up his compass, 
his Majesty traced the march of his army on the map. 

Two days after the battle of Austerlitz, Sordi, who 
accompanied the army as Chief of Communications 
throughout the Austrian campaign, was summoned to 
the Emperor's headquarters at Brunn. " Monsieur," 
said Napoleon, " I am delighted to see you. The events 
you foretold at Boulogne have come true. An honest 
man's word is his bond, and as a ruler should be the 
most honest man in his country, the 30,000 francs owing 
to you for my pavilion shall now be paid you." 

Whereupon Duroc took from a brass-mounted ma- 
hogany casket several rouleaux of gold, and placed them 
on the table in front of the Emperor. Opening two of 
them, Napoleon handed to Sordi the rixdollars and gold 
roubles they contained ; and as the engineer was expressing 
his gratitude with profuse salutations, he exclaimed : 
" Don't thank me, thank the Emperors of Austria and 

The author of this book had many opportunities in 
his childhood of conversing with some of the old inhabi- 
tants of Boulogne, who could recollect having seen the 
famous pavilion. 

It still existed in 1808, but in 1810 only portions of 
it were left standing. 

Napoleon's remarks quoted above, and his behaviour 


with respect to its cost, and the payment of the work, 
have been subject to criticism to which I should like 
to reply. 

It is hardly fair to apply the terms " meanness and 
sordid economy " to the Emperor's conduct, which was 
perfectly justifiable under the circumstances. Though 
given to display, on occasions, from motives of expediency, 
in other words, while affecting great pomp and splen- 
dour in his character of Caesar, the moment he ceased to 
represent France, Napoleon never forgot that he had 
not been cradled in a bed of gold, nor been arrayed in 
lace and fine linen, like the sons of princes. 

Though born of a noble race, the son of Charles 
Bonaparte had experienced poverty and hardship from 
his earliest years. Indeed his father's income, derived 
from a small estate, appears to have amounted to about 
1,500 francs only. 

Such were the limited means of the family, that the 
Bishop of Autun was approached with a view to obtaining, 
through his influence, two scholarships for the eldest 
children, Joseph and Napoleon ; and when the latter 
was sent to Brienne, he had not the pocket-money 
necessary for all those little luxuries which his school- 
fellows were able to indulge in ; but this did not make 
him envious of them. He grew up, but was still familiar 
with poverty. 

In order to help his mother, who had been left a 
widow, with eight children, the future Emperor, who 
was then at Auxonne, had undertaken to provide for 
his brother Louis. His lieutenant's pay, amounting to 
about three francs a day, was all he could reckon upon to 
supply the wants of both. We have a description of 
Louis and Napoleon doing their own cooking and attend- 
ing to their modest " pot-au-feu." * " If I managed to 

* De Coston. 


feed him. on my pay," Napoleon afterwards told Caulain- 
court, " it was only by never setting foot in a coffee 

In 1792 he was in such a state of destitution that he 
had to leave his watch in pawn, with a certain Fauvelet.* 

As he could not starve, he frequented a cookshop f 
of the lowest description in the Rue des Petits Peres, 
where he regaled himself with a single dish at six sous 
the portion. But keeping up his courage in spite of 
adverse fortune, he declared that " gloves were quite 
an unnecessary expense," while his hair dressing was 
neglected, and " his straggling locks ill-powdered," as 
the Duchesse d'Abrantes mentions in her memoirs. 
And this life of privations went on for some years ; at 
one time his uniform was so worn that he was obliged 
to have recourse to Mme. Tallien's influence, to obtain 
from the Director of Military Supplies sufficient cloth 
for a new suit, of which he stood in most pressing need.J 

A whole volume could be written on this touching 
period in Napoleon's life, during which, though often 
himself in extreme want, he still found means of sharing 
his bread with his relations, and, true to his native 
honesty, performed the remarkable feat of keeping clear 
of debt, except to the amount of 15 francs. And this 
sum had not been spent on luxuries, but was the arrear 
of an account due to the proprietor of a small eating-house, 
who had allowed him credit out of charity, and to keep 
him from starvation. 

These biographical details sufficiently explain and 
justify the Emperor's remarks with regard to the ex- 
cessive expenditure on his pavilion. They had reckoned 
upon a bill of indemnity in playing upon his glory, but 

* De Bourrienne. 

t The owner of the shop was Justat. 

J Ouvrard. 

Chateaubriand :" Meinoires d'Outre-tombe." 


he saw through the manoeuvre, and declined to be im- 
posed upon ; and the spirit of economy which never 
deserted him in the midst of his good fortune, prevailed 
over his personal vanity. Though not objecting to the 
incense of flattery, he was never elated by it, and he 
retained a clear vision, in spite of the treacherous fumes 
that would have intoxicated weaker men. 

What became of the ground on which the celebrated 
" Baraque " stood ? 

In 1854 an Englishman, Mr. Kent, became the 
purchaser of the plot of land, and later on erected, on 
the site of the pavilion, a statue in terra-cotta of Napoleon. 
It was placed on a cement pedestal, and surrounded 
with artificial rocks. In order to secure its stability 
for the weight of the statue with its base was enormous 
and perhaps to protect it against the violence of the wind, 
a trench was opened in the mound upon which the 
pavilion had stood, and on the very spot which the 
Emperor's bedroom had once occupied. 

The monument, designed by M. Edouard de Beten- 
court, represented Napoleon standing with his hand in 
his breast, and wearing the traditional hat, his gaze 
fixed towards England. It resembled one of those 
statues which were placed in succession on the Colonne 
Vendome * in Paris. A statue which stands in the 
niche of the great " Court of Honour " at the Hotel des 
Invalides will give one an idea of what it was like. 

The ground surrounding the little monument at 
Boulogne was inlaid with mosaics, representing eagles 

* The first statue was put up in 1812, and was the work of the sculptor 
Chaudet ; it represented Napoleon as a Roman Emperor. Taken down 
at the Second Restoration, this statue was melted down, and recast as an 
equestrian statue of Henry IV. A second statue, by the younger Seurre, was 
put up in 1833, and unveiled by Louis Philippe. It was the original of the 
one at Boulogne, and represented Napoleon in his habitual riding-coat. In 
1804 this statue was replaced by a third, sculptured by Damont, in which 
Napoleon figured as a Roman Conqueror. 


and Legion of Honour crosses ; it was fenced off by a 
wrought-iron railing. 

The pedestal bore the following inscription : 






The statue remained standing until 1894 ; but one 
night, during a violent storm, and in spite of the iron 
braces which had been placed for its support, it fell to 
the ground and was shivered in a thousand pieces.* 

The author has seen the opinion expressed by various 
writers that Napoleon's f house at Longwood was an 
exact reproduction of his pavilion at Boulogne. On 
the face of it this seems improbable. 'One could hardly 
understand the object or meaning of such an attention 
on England's part, towards the fallen giant. Whereas, 
from documents which the author received direct from 
Saint Helena, and from a memorandum given him by 

* This, at all events, is the current version, but to be historically exact, 
I am forced to admit that the destruction of the statue was planned, and 
carried out, by the anti-Bonapartists. I could even specify the names of 
the men to whom they entrusted the execution of their design, and who had 
to provide themselves with ropes and levers to overthrow the statue, which 
was firmly supported by four iron braces. 

t " Destruction of the site of Napoleon's ' Baraque,' " published by Dela- 


M. L. Morilleau, the French Consular Agent there, it 
would appear that the house in which Napoleon lived at 
Longwood had been built as early as 1743, when D unbar 
was Governor of the island. It became the residence 
of the Lieut. -Goyernor of the East India Company ; and 
in 1815 the Emperor occupied it, and lived there up to 
the time of his death, on the 5th May, 1821. This error, 
however, is easily explained. The house at Longwood, 
resembling in this respect the pavilion at Boulogne, was 
single-storied, having but one row of windows, so that 
there was a slight similarity of aspect between the 

When Napoleon wished to go from his residence at 
the Tour d'Odre to Pont-de-Briques, and vice versa, or, 
when he inspected the dockyards in the inner harbour 
and at Capecure he had to pass through the fisher- 
men's quarter of the town, as the coast road, since made, 
was not then in existence. 

The fishing quarter was called " La Beurriere," 
after a much-frequented inn, which stood half-way 
between the town and the Tour d'Odre, and displayed 
on its signboard a woman churning butter. 

The sign of "La Beurriere " is a very ancient one ; 
it figures in the quaint " register of Saint Wulmer," 
dating from the beginning of the sixteenth century, in 
which he describes the arrival of Mary of England,* 
sister of Henry VIII. , and third wife of Louis XII., at 

* " In September, year of grace 1514, at 10 o'clock in the forenoon, Mary, 
sister of King Henry VIII. of England, entered the port of Boulogne ; and 
with her came many Princes and Princesses of England, Dukes and Counts, 
Duchesses and Countesses, and Prelates ; she came to wed King Louis XII. 
of France. Then Mary and her companions left the ships, which were fine 
to look upon, and landed in the port close to ' La Burriere.' And horses 
were brought to them, our bay horse, also hacks from the town, because the 
ships which brought their horses and luggage had not arrived, owing to the 
bad weather ; but they arrived a few days later ; and had it not been for the 
fact that there were some good mariners among Mary's company, she would 
not have sailed by that tide." 


Boulogne : " Flower of Beauty, noble and amiable 
Princess ! " as she is described by the Prior of Boulogne, 
Laurens Framery. 

Adjoining Napoleon's " Post of Observation " and 
Bruix's pavilion, was the " signalling terrace," from 
which the Emperor and the admiral signalled their 
orders to the fleet. 

In the Order of the Day dated 27 Germinal, Year XII., 
" the captains of the vessels are warned that the flag- 
staffs placed on the summit of the Fort de la Creche, 
and the Mont du Couple, will repeat the signals given 
by the admiral at the Tour d'Odre." 

The Order of the Day of the 27th Prairial prescribes 
the following regulations, which were to be carried out, 
without waiting for a special signal : 

' The admiral warns the captains of the ships of 
the flotilla, that when a boat flying the Imperial Standard 
at the fore, passes within earshot of their ship, it must 
be saluted with five cheers of ' Long live the Emperor,' 
a guard of honour will man the ship, and the drums will 
beat the salute. 

" These honours must be observed whenever the boat 
passes within earshot." 

On March nth, 1805, Napoleon wrote to Vice- 
Admiral Decres : 

" SIR, The flotilla at Boulogne is composed of 
eight small squadrons ; each squadron has two divisions 
of shallops, making altogether 36 shallops, capable 
of carrying 2,400 men. I wish them to be exercised, 
when the weather permits, and signals must be established 
to train them to disembark, to come ashore together, to 
commence firing the howitzers or four-pounders loaded 
with grape, and to have in the rear a division of gunboats 
to cover them. 


" They must especially accustom themselves to 
' obey the signals,' and so to understand them, as to 
agree upon the exact moment of landing. A division 
of shallops must be able to land, on signal, at such and 
such a distance, and to right or left of any given point. 
The officers in command of the shallops must accustom 
themselves to ' recognise the signals,' and obey them 
with promptitude. 


On the same day the Minister of Marine (Decres) 
transmitted the following orders to the Commander of 
the flotilla at Boulogne : 

"Paris, nth March, 1805. 

" GENERAL, According to the Emperor's intentions, 
the shallop divisions attached to the squadrons of the 
flotilla are to practise the landing manoeuvres when the 
weather is favourable to their evolutions. It is essential 
that these different manoeuvres be indicated by simple 
signals ; these signals, which it is of the utmost import- 
ance that officers in command of shallops should learn 
to obey promptly and without hesitation, must especially 
comprise signals to come ashore together and in good 
order, to commence firing the howitzer, or the piece of 
four loaded with grape ; to spread, in order to go and land 
at such and such a distance, either above or below the 
point indicated, and to prepare to embark and to dis- 


The Rue Tour d'Odre and the road to the pavilion 
did not exist in those days ; to reach the right camp from 
the town there was but one way, and that was a road 
leading out of the Rue des Vieillards; those who are 
familiar with the topography of the place can realise 


what an enormous circuit one had to make, to get down 
from the camp to the beach below. 

Napoleon, out of patience, asked the Maritime Prefect 
of Boulogne, M. Bonnefoux, to find some practical 
means of establishing direct communication between 
the Plateau d'Odre and the beach, to which he had con- 
tinually to repair. 

Sordi, engineer of military communications, having 
declared the suggestion to be practicable, received the 
following reply from the Emperor : 

" Adopt whatever means you choose, but in three 
days' time I must be able to get down to the beach by 
way of the cliff." 

This was short notice. But on the appointed day, 
however, a road had been cut, zigzag, from the top of 
the cliff to the base, and the stones with which the road 
had been paved to keep it from being cut up by the 
horse's hoofs were bound together with iron cramps, 
so steep was the declivity of the hill. 

In organising a general signalling service for the 
whole of the north; quite distinct of course from the 
special naval service, the Admiralty had adopted the 
system of an expert of unquestionable authority, Claude 
Chappe,* inventor of aerial telegraphy, whose process 
had been made the subject of a special inquiry, on the 
part of Lakanal and Daunou, by an order of the Convention 
(decree dated April 6th, 1793). 

Claude Chappe was sometimes dignified with the 
style of Abbe. He did, in point of fact, terminate his 
studies at the Seminary of La Fleche, and was made 
commendatory f abbot ; in other words, he was appointed 
to two important livings. It is well known that this 

* In 1893 a statue of Chappe, by Dame, was put up in memory of the 
inventor, in the Boulevard Saint Germain. 

t A commendam was the usufruct of an abbacy granted by the Pope. 


native of La Sarthe had spent years in contriving a system 
of signalling, which consisted of an apparatus resembling 
a gibbet with two arms ; at their extremity they were 
provided with moveable pieces, turning on a pivot, the 
successive positions of which, corresponding to certain 
words and certain significations, formed a complete 
language. He had introduced his invention to the 
National Assembly, under the name of " tachygraphy," 
on March 22nd, 1792.* 

In the speech in which Chappe introduced his 
apparatus to the Assembly, he pointed out that, thanks 
to his discovery, it would now be possible for the repre- 
sentatives to transmit their orders to the frontier, and 
receive an answer during the same sitting ; and, further 
elucidating his statement, he undertook to convey to a 
distance of fifty miles, within thirty-three minutes, a 
message of this kind : " Lukner has advanced on Mons, 
in order to beseige the town. Bender has moved forward 
to defend. The two generals are in sight of each other. 
To-morrow they will engage in battle." 

The assembly, of course, gladly accepted the tribute 
of this discovery, and the experiment proved, moreover, 
that the idea was practicable. In fact, be it mentioned 
that, thanks to Chappe, " the Convention received during 
a sitting the news of the glorious capture of the town 
of Conde-on-the-Scheldt, amidst scenes of indescribable 

On July 26th, 1793, Chappe had been appointed 
" Telegraphic Engineer," with the pay of a lieutenant of 
Engineers ; and it was in this capacity that he hence- 
forth affixed his signature to his letters, reports and 

From the station, the " watchers " could read the 

* The term " telegraphy " given to Chappe's tachygraphy dates from 
April, 1793. 


distant signals with the aid of a telescope, but Chappe, 
as we can see from his publications in the " Journal of 
Physics," had already, with his brains of a genius, con- 
ceived a clear notion of the possibility of transmitting 
signs by electricity ; and if, in his time, the insufficiency 
of electric power barred the way to an attainment of 
perfect results, there can be no question that the principles 



sur l beffroi dt Boulogne 
daprcs une qi-jvurv df /d/r X// 

From an Engraving. (Year XII.) 

of the future telegraphy were discovered by this true 

Broken-hearted, on finding that his claim to priority 
in these discoveries was most unjustly contested, Chappe 
lost courage ; erifeebled by ill-health, he would not 
survive * his misfortune, but cut short his own life in 
a tragic manner at the early age of forty- two. 

As we have already pointed out, it was not Chappe's 
business to substitute his invention for the naval system 
of signalling, carried out by means of flags of various 
forms and colours ; but his practical intelligence suggested 
many improvements and ingenious simplifications, which 

* In 1805 he threw himself into the well of the Hotel des Telegraphes. 


were taken into account when the " Code of Signals " 
was established, in 1854. This code remained the special 
language for all the navies up to the year 1901, when the 
International Code of Signals * proposed by the English 
Government came into force. The line of telegraphs 
to Lille claimed Chappe's more especial attention ; the 
system was to branch off in one direction, towards Calais 
and Dunkirk, and in the other towards Brussels. 

Whenever Chappe was able to utilise the top of a 
house or a structure like the Beffroi in Boulogne | to 
establish his apparatus, he took advantage of his oppor- 
tunity ; but if the station was placed on the summit of 
a hill, clear of buildings, he erected a small pyramid, on 
the top of which the indicators were fixed, on an axle 
in the manner depicted in this illustration of a seal, 
formerly in use in the telegraphic service. 

* The international code which has been accepted by thirty-eight dif- 
ferent nations, and translated into as many languages, is based on the use 
of twenty-six flags, corresponding to twenty-six letters, plus the code penant, 
which has five white and vertical lines. A ship flying the code penarit pro- 
claims that her signals are those of the code. 

t The old belfry tower of the Hotel de Ville. (Translator's note.) 




Archaeological Research and Recollections The Emperor's 
Pavilion on the Land of the Tour du Vieil Homme " The 
Herring Beacon " Remains of the Tower at the Epoch 
of Boulogne Camp. 

THE enormous Tower of Caligula, or Tour d'Odre, quite 
close to which the small Napoleonic pavilion was raised, 
was an edifice shaped like a pyramid. In successive 
ages, its beacon lights had shone on Roman galleys, 
Charlemagne's fleets, and the vessels of Philippe-Auguste, 
till, centuries later, the modern Caesar came, and erected 
his temporary dwelling over its ruins. 

This memorable monument, which resembled the 
ancient Pharos as Herodius describes consisted of 
twelve storeys, diminishing in succession, each pierced 
with numerous windows, and surrounded by an exterior 
gallery. It was sixty-four feet in diameter at its base, 
and two hundred feet in height. On the summit, was an 
octagonal lantern, which was afterwards replaced by a 
square one, when the top of the tower was repaired. 
The structure consisted of alternate courses of yellow 
stone, red brick and grey stone, symmetrically disposed. 

The reader will forgive the author for entering into 
certain retrospective details, which he thinks it necessary 
to give, for the explanation of various comparisons that 
occur in the succeeding chapters. 

It would, undoubtedly, be interesting to the student 



to read an account, however brief, of the visits paid by 
many sovereigns in succession, to the shores of the 

Boulonnais; Fran- 
cois I., Henri IV., 
Louis XIII., Louis 
XIV., Peter the 
Great and Louis 
XV., for instance; 
but we must con- 
tent ourselves 
with selecting 
from the past 
those points only, 
which can help to 
make us under- 
stand Bonaparte's 
projects, when he 
schemed a renewal 
of Caesar's expedi- 
tion across the 
Channel. Besides, 
in retrospecting, 
the author is not 
wandering very 
far from his sub- 
ject, for Napoleon 
himself directed 
the Municipality 
and the learned 
men of the town, 
to place before 
him the docu- 
ments relating to the history and topography of the 
district, which had been made famous by a series 
of such memorable events. On the ist Thermidor, XII., 

ecroule en 

un //vV ^nc/e/j olmi 



Fell in 1644. 
From a very old Drawing in the Louvre. 


after holding a military levee at the pavilion, the Emperor 
received the men to whom he had given the above in- 
structions, and they furnished him with a pertinent 
and authenticated version of the historical facts he wished 
to be acquainted with. 

This learned report was probably not preserved, 
but, nevertheless, it is possible to reconstitute its principal 
features by referring to the authorities at our disposal. 
According to Bucherius,* each of the eight sides of 
Caligula's Tower measured twenty-five feet in length. 

From other manuscripts, f we gather that " its height, 
not including the foundations, which were 6 feet deep, 
was 124 feet, divided into twelve storeys, which became 
gradually narrower as they reached the top. The first 
storey was 224 feet in circumference, and each of the 
sides twenty-eight feet long. 

" The circumference of the top storey was forty feet, 
and it was five feet long at each side ; there was a door- 
way at each angle, making a total of ninety-six doorways, 
not including the entrance to the lantern. The staircase 
leading up to the summit was constructed in the interior 
of the wall. Every night they kindled a beacon in the 
tower to guide the vessels which were in these parts." 

The anonymous author of the " Memoir " in 1650 
writes : 

" On the other side of the river bank, on the cliff 
upstream that is, towards the north stood the old 
Tour d'Odre, called by the English ' The Old Man,' for 
this reason : that, as they only saw it from a long dis- 
tance off, it looked like a man, who, from always sitting 
in that same position, had acquired that name. This 
tower was a fine structure, of great height, and great 
thickness, built of stone and bricks both very large and 

* In his " Belgicum." 

t Cited in " Historical Essay on Boulogne," by Henry (1810). 


thick, intermixed with yellow stone, the whole well 
joined and cemented together. It had eight angles, 
and eight sides each of 28 feet. It had been built a 
long way from the sea, more than one bowshot distant 
from the edge of the cliff, which formed the canal and 
mouth of the said harbour, in order that the sea should 
not cause it to fall, because its foundations were not 
deep in the earth." * 

Another manuscript gives still fuller details : 
" This tower diminished by degrees, like all other 
lighthouses, towards its summit, which was surmounted 
by arches enclosing a square space for the fire. The 
tower was built of variegated stone and brick, which 
formed a blending of colours, and made the total aspect 
very agreeable. First, there were three courses of 
stone such as is found along this coast, of iron-grey 
colour ; next, two courses of yellow stone, and above 
these two rows of bright red bricks. This tower, before 
it fell, was also surrounded by a strong fortification 
in brickwork, well flanked and regularly built, with a 
very fine exterior, which had been constructed by the 
English in 1545 ; but this fortification has fallen away 
on the side facing the sea. It is well established that 
the said tower served as a lighthouse to guide the sea- 
men during the night ; . . . . but since it fell, the beacon 
is kindled in a small building which has been erected 
not far off, and in the same line as the tower." 

* " De 1'autre cote" de la riviere, et sur la falaise qui est vers 1'amont, ou 
vers le nord, etait assise la Vielle Tour d'Odre, appelee par les Anglais le 
' Vieil Homme ' d'autant qu 'a leur egard, a cause de 1'eloignement, elle 
paraissit comme un homme qui, etant en cette assiette toujours de meme, 
avait usurpe ce nom. Cette tour etait de tres-belle structure, de hauteur 
insigne, d'epaisseur tres-grande, batie de briques et carreaux fort larges et 
epais, entremeles de pierres bises, jointes et cimentees toutes ensemble. Elle 
6tait de huit angles et huit pans, desquels chacun contenait 28 pieds de face. 
Elle avait ete construite fort loin, a plus d'un jet d'arc arriere du bord de la 
falaise, qui faisait le canal et Tembouchure dudit havre, afin que la mer ne la 
fit point tomber, a cause qu'elle n'etait point fondee profond en terre." 


A document of 1546, an extract from the English 
.State papers,* shows that the appellation of " Old Man's 
Tower " was the one by which the Tour d'Odre was 
usually known. We give the text with its archaic 
spelling : 

" And then, objected we to him (in reply to French 
allegations about similar unfair fortifications) that we 
herd they went about to begynne fortifications ... at 
Portel, and thhil (the hill) over, against the Old-Man." 

Nevertheless, the real name of Tour d'Odre was 
sufficiently well known, as we may see by a letter dated 
May 3ist, 1548, written by Sir John Bridges to the Lord 
Protector on receiving a report from two English 
spies : 

" A fort is to be commenced immediately .... to- 
wards the Tower of Oder " (sic). 

In contradistinction, the small fort, or " Fort Rouge," 
situated between the " Old Man " and the town, was 
known under the name of " Young Man." The English 
appellation of Old Man, in designating the Tour d'Odre, 
is reproduced in foreign maps under certain denomin- 
ations which leave no room for doubt. For instance, 
on a Dutch plan, which is preserved in the library at 
the University of Amsterdam, and is an extract from 
a work dated 1584, the lighthouse is called " Tour Dordre- 
Doudeman." There is a Latin copy by Lucas Waghenaer 
of this exceedingly rare work in existence ; it was pub- 
lished in 1591 by Cornelius Nicolay (Amsterdam), under 
the title of " Speculum Nauticum." 

Again, on a naval map of the Flemish coast, dated 
1650, now in the British Museum, the old appellation 
is still more clearly recalled, for a little to the north of 
Boulogne we read the words, " d'Oude Man Tour 

* 31 Aug., 1546, from the Privy Council at Wolton. 


And lastly we may quote the following extract from 
d'Ortelins' map, 1588 : 

" Not far from Boulogne, near the sea, there is an 
ancient tower built of stones .... the French people 
call it the Tour d'Odre, and the English the Old Man."* 

The reader will now understand what is meant if, 
on reading the correspondence dating from the time of 
the Boulogne camp, he comes across such sentences 
as these : " The young General had made a point of 
pitching his tent near the Old Man." 

Of course, the fantastic silhouette which, seen from 
the Channel, seemed vaguely to suggest the profile of 
an old man crouching, was only the result of the dis- 
mantling of the tower and its accessories ; for prior to 
its deterioration, the geometrical lines on which it was 
constructed would certainly never have lent themselves 
to this optical illusion. 

Strange indeed are the transformations effected by 
Time ! Using his scythe as a rough pointer's chisel, 
he modifies, stone by stone, the aspect of the most famous 

Tempus edax rerum, tuque, invidiosa Vetustas, 
Omnia destruitis.f 

The original of the drawing of Caligula's Tower 
was formerly in the library of the Louvre (it has been 
reproduced in several publications), but it must have 
been destroyed by fire during the Commune in 1871 
according to a communication received by the author 
from the director of the National Museums. 

Caligula's Tower on Plateau d'Odre is undoubtedly 
the work of the Roman Emperor. His expeditions to 

* Non gueres loing de Boulogne, aupres de la mer, y a une tour antique 
bastie de pierres .... Les Fra^ois 1'appellent la Tour d'Odre ; et 
les Anglais le Vieil Homme. 

t Ovid. Metamorph. 


the Rhine and to the coast which " faced Britain " 
are established facts, fully borne out by the testimony 
of Suetonius * and Dion Cassius.f The following, how- 
ever, is absolutely certain : 

" On quitting the Rhine, Caligula formed a scheme 
for invading Britain, and embarked on the Channel 
with this intention. Chance, however, having procured 
him the voluntary submission of the exiled British 
Prince, he took advantage of this unexpected good 
fortune to confer on himself the honours of a triumph. 
Wishing to establish a more lasting memorial of his 
pretended conquest than the pomps of the Capital, 
he erected a beacon tower on the cliff of Gesoriacum 
since named Boulogne destined to guide the navi- 
gators in the Channel." 

There is a suggestive passage in the " Roman de 
Brut," written by Wace in the twelfth century, which 
runs thus : 

" A un mult bon angigneor 
Fist sor la mer faire une tor. 
En Boloigne siet, Ordre a nom 
N'en sai nule de tel fagon." 

Which means, literally : " Caesar had, by a very good 
engineer, a tower made by the sea. It stands at Bou- 
logne ; Ordre is its name ; I know of no other that is 
built the same." 

In the Life of Caligula, written by Suetonius, we 
read : 

" Caligula, having disposed his troops in order of 
battle, and caused the engines of war to be placed along 
the shore, he suddenly ordered the soldiers to fill their 
helmets and their clothing with shells from the beach, 

* In indicium Victoriae, altissiraam turrera excitavit, ex qua ut ex Pharo, 
noctibus ad regendos navium cursus ignes emicarent (Life of Caligula), 
t Hist. rom. lix., 21 and 25. 


so that they might carry them back to the senate, and 
deposit them in the Capitol, as trophies of his victory 
on the ocean. To perpetuate the memory of his pre- 
tended triumph, he caused a very high tower to be 
erected, to guide vessels navigating in those parts." 

While excavating for the jetty works in 1739, they 
discovered some medals commemorating this event ; 
others have also been found near the Tour d'Odre. 

In the course of ages the Tower gradually decayed 
till it became useless, so much so that in the reign of 
Charlemagne it had to undergo substantial restoration 
before it could serve again in its former capacity of light- 

It would seem that the latter appellation of Tour 
d'Odre was given to Caligula's Tower when the barony 
of Odre was created, for the ground on which it stood 
formed part of that territory. This barony was one of 
twelve in the county of Boulogne. It is mentioned in 
a Boulogne charter dated 1315, and referred to in a 
declaration couched in the following words : " C'est 
ce que je, Pierre d'Ordre, tieng et entens tenir noble- 
ment." (And this I, Pierre d'Ordre, hold and intend 
to hold nobly.) 

We may observe that the name is spelt indifferently 
Odre, or Ordre, in notarial documents and ancient 
authors. The spelling of Odre, however, would appear 
to be the more exact, since the tower is called " Odrans " 
in a manuscript of the tenth century. This same form 
of spelling is also used by the author of the " Life of 
Saint Fulcuin." 

But what is the meaning of the word " Odre," which 
describes the historical old tower, and also the ground 
on which the imperial " Baraque " was raised ? 

It has been suggested that the name is derived from 
the word " ardens," in reference to the beacon that 


was kindled in the tower ; but other philologists are 
of opinion that the name is really the Celtic word " odr," 
or " odre," signifying border, boundary, shore, or limit. 
And this seems far more probable when one takes into 
account the situation of the tower in this " furthermost 
land of the Morini." It is this remoteness which would 
seem to have struck the old authors more than any 
other peculiarity concerning the ancient inhabitants of the 
Boulonnais. Virgil, in enumerating the various subjects 
of the Roman Empire figuring on the shield of ^Eneas, 
mentions the Morini as the " most remote of men." * 
Pomponius Mela calls them " the most distant of the 


Pliny states that they are reputed to live at the 
extremity of the earth ; J and Tacitus points out that 
the land of the Morini is at the " furthest extremity 
of Gaul." Ammius Marcellinus calls this country " the 
end of the world."|| 

A topographical peculiarity confirms this etymology, 
for we see in Malbrancq ^ " that the ancient gate of 
Boulogne leading to the shore was called the Gate of 
the Boundary." 

As to the word " Morini " by which name the an- 
cient inhabitants of Boulogne were known it is probably 
derived from the Celtic word " Mor," morass, since 
Csesar relates that in his time the land of the Morini 
was covered with woods and morasses, in which the 
inhabitants took refuge when they were pursued by 
the Roman troops. And what still remained of these 
forests was cut down, for the most part, under the 

* Extremi que hominum Morini (Eneid viii., 727). 

t Ultimi Gallicarum gentium Morini. 

t Ultimi hominum estimati Morini. 

Extrema Galliarum. 

|| Orbis extrema. 

U De Morini. 


Consulate arid at the beginning of the First Empire, 
to organise the defence of the coasts of the Manche. 

In the sixteenth century, they used the Odre light- 
house for the winter or herring fishing, and this is why 
the lights were known as the " herring beacon."* The 
lights were lit when the season opened, and the town 
" judged it expedient to kindle the Tour d'Odre beacon 
from the feast of St. Michael to the following Easter." 
But, from reasons of economy, it was not kept burn- 
ing every night. Indeed, every owner of a fishing boat 
belonging to Boulogne or Outereau had to pay a tax 
of four sous a year.*)* Also, in 1564 there was an allow- 
ance of " twenty-five loads of wood for the beacon that 
guides the ships on the sea."J 

Owing to a subsidence of the cliff, the top part of 
the tower crashed down one day on to the beach below, 
where the debris formed a dangerous reef ; and in 1572 
we hear that a fisherman of Capecure (Boulogne suburb), 
named Philippin Begin, was appointed to light a big 
lantern at the top of a mast, before high tide, to warn 
the fishing boats off the reef. In exchange for this good 
office the fishermen had to pay a special tax of " 100 
fresh herrings." 

At the present day one can still see, on the summit 
of the Odre cliff, the last remains of one of the blocks of 
red brick work, which for years were taken to be the 
venerable remains of the Roman tower. The scientists 
of a more recent date, however, basing their arguments 
on the difference in the building materials, came to the 
conclusion that these stumps undoubtedly the remains 
of large walls at the edge of the cliff, were in reality 

* " Foyer de la harenguison." 

t " Chacun maistre de nef, tant de le Ville que d'Outrea-Aywe, allans 
en pesquerie etait assujetti a payer 4 sols tournois." 

25 sommes de bois a faire feux, pour enseigner les navires et vaisseaux 
estant sur la mer. 


the fragments of a whole system of fortifications, dating 
only from the sixteenth century, at the time that the 
English were occupying Boulogne (1544-1559). At this 
time, as we know, the Tour d'Odre was protected by 
two separate outworks : first by a rampart of bricks, 
which itself was surrounded by 'a bulwark of "earth" 
of polygonal shape, which was destined to mask the 
inner batteries. 

The author, who has lived many years near the 
Plateau d'Odre, and has witnessed, therefore, many 
alterations, is convinced that the mound on which the 
pavilion was raised (this mound has recently been 
levelled, but the author can recall its outline between 
the crest and the new battery) is no other than the 
" curtain " mentioned above. 

At the time of the First Empire, the debris of the 
lighthouse littered the approach to the beach, and 
Napoleon saw them there, no doubt, during his frequent 
promenades along the base of the cliif. An adjutant of 
engineers, Henry, who wrote a history of Boulogne, 
declares that at that date he himself saw " the shore, 
strewn with the debris of the Tour d'Odre, and of the 
rocks which supported the cliff, fifty-five metres high, on 
which the tower stood." One night, as Napoleon was 
taking a stroll on the top of the cliff, he saw, in the 
starlight, two gunners furtively making their way to- 
wards an old trench, that dated from the time of the 
English occupation. He approached them quietly, and 
surprised them just as they were about to cross swords. 
The Emperor, who had always looked upon a duel as 
a mere murderous conflict, devoid of glory, asked them 
the cause of their enmity ; and, constituting himself judge 
of the case, he pinched the ear of the one who had accepted 
the challenge, and said : " In the next battle you will not 
be in the front ; you will say that it is by my orders." 


And, wishing to aggravate the punishment of the 
one whom he considered was most to blame for pro- 
voking the duel, he added : 

" And as for you, you will report yourself ill on that 
day and go to hospital do you understand ? " 

I wonder whether such a punishment as this would 
be considered a severe sentence nowadays ? 

One must admit that the man who employed such 


From a Drawing in the " Bibliothtque Nationale." 

methods of discipline was a genius, and that the men 
whom such arguments as these could convince were 
incomparable soldiers. 

We have already given an illustration of the light- 
house proper on another page ; but the whole pile, 
with its dependencies, made a sort of Bastille, or fortress, 
the ruins of which formed huge heaps of carved masonry 
most tempting to anyone in want of building material. 
We can form an idea of the importance of the fortress 
by glancing at the faithful reproduction of a drawing 
the author came across in the National Archives. 


But it would be useless to make excavations in the 
cliff, as M. Egger once proposed doing to the Boulogne 
municipality, for the real site of the monument now 
corresponds with the edge of the beach, and is buried 
in a shroud of sand. Experience is constantly proving 
that the weight alone of masonry work, when placed 
on certain rocks, is sufficient to cause subsidence 
within a very few years. But it was another circum- 
stance altogether which especially contributed to the 
disappearance of these debris. 

For generations the Boulogne people were in the 
habit of getting their stone from the base of the Odre 
cliff in spite of the various attempts made by the munici- 
pality to put a stop to this imprudent practice, which 
was undermining the cliff. But it was in vain that 
in 1606 " twelve of the windows of the tower were filled 
in with masonry work for the purpose of consolidating 
the pile, which showed deep crevices," the precautions 
were taken too late to avert destruction. From 1640 
to 1644 the Tower was gradually undermined by various 
landslips, caused by the quarrying and springs of the 
soil, till it fell at last, in the manner recorded by the 
chaplain vicar of the cathedral : * " This day of Saint 
Sebastien, 19 January, a portion of the Tour d'Odre 
fell ; a few days later in the same month, a second 
portion fell ; and the third fell on the 30th July, 1644." 

The fall of the tower resulted in a curious lawsuit 
between the Boulogne municipality and a rich land- 
owner in the neighbourhood the Baron of Baincthun, 
who, by virtue of an ancient right, was entitled to a 
royalty of 2,000 salted herrings. 

But inasmuch as the land lying in proximity to the 
tower had also fallen away, the municipality contended 
that the town was freed of all obligation towards the 

* " Ephemerides " National Library. The author died in 1668. 


proprietor. Whereupon the Lord of Baincthun main- 
tained that the landslips were due to the negligence of 
the tenants, and engaged in a long lawsuit to claim his 
royalty of herrings. The court decided in favour of the 
claimant, and issued a decree dated July 1st, 1656, 
whereby the " Messieurs of Boulogne " were found 
liable for the loss, due to their negligence, and con- 
demned to pay as heretofore :* " Two thousand salted 
and fresh herrings, to be taken to Arras, Amiens, or any 
town at a similar distance, according to the wish of the 
lord of the Manor ; or, in default of this, to restore the 
former state of conditions." 

The clause which related to the alternative imposed 
on the tenants was inserted only that the act might be 
in accordance with the law of the land, for the damage, 
of course, was irreparable, and the town had no choice 
but to pay the tax of herrings " due for the Tour d'Odre." 

Needless to say that during the Consular period 
this feudal tax was no longer in existence, but we read 
that the town made several distributions of fish among 
the soldiers of the Right Camp, and though these gifts 
were purely gratuitous, and assumed a character of 
liberality towards the soldiers, it is open to us to believe 
that the municipality was influenced to their action by 
memories of the past. M. Egger, in his account of 
" La Tour d'Odre," blames the mayor and aldermen 
whose names he withholds out of charity for having 
caused, by their carelessness, the scandal of this ridiculous 

However, it must not be supposed that the municipal 
magistrates remained indifferent to the removal of 
tufa and stones from the tower, for they brought in 

* Deux mille harengs, saures et blancs, portes a Arras, Amiens, et autres 
villes de pareille distance, au choix du Seigneur ; ou a remettre les choses en 
leur ancien etat. 


several measures to try and suppress this dangerous 
practice, notably an edict enforcing a " penalty of banish- 
ment and a fine of ten livres " on the delinquents. In 
1618 especially, the mayor and aldermen of Boulogne 
published a resolution which " forbade the removal of 
stones and tufa in the vicinity of the Tour d'Odre and 
the Moulin- Wiber." 

And we must remember that in those days the 
anxiety to preserve a dilapidated monument merely for 
its archaeological interest probably weighed very little 
in the minds of the contemporaries. 

Since then, the action of the springs filtering through 
the shale has never ceased wearing away the cliff, and 
the reason that Napoleon's pavilion was placed some 
way back, was, that they wished to obviate all risk of 
its slipping some day towards the beach. 

Napoleon had continually before his eyes the re- 
mains of the tower, which explains his remark, cited by 
the author of the " History of the Boulonnais," " I hope 
indeed to be Caesar, but I shall certainly never be Cali- 

* M. H.'de Rosny. 



His Visits to Terlincthun Chapel of " Jesus Flagelle " Decree of 
Floreal, Year XII. The Gardens and Swans at the Post 
of Observation Epaulettes, Pigtails, Beer, Barrels. 

IT has been said of Napoleon that he never interrogated 
or consulted others, but to make known to them his own 
irrevocable determination. 

Without believing implicitly in his infallibility, he 
had too much faith in his destiny, and too much confi- 
dence in his own judgment (of which he has given so 
many examples), to play a secondary part among his 
entourage. But there is a distinction to be made. It 
would appear that Napoleon only consulted his generals 
and ministers on any question, when he had already 
formed a mature opinion of his own on the subject ; 
and this opinion he would press home upon them with 
the strongest arguments. 

He went straight to the point with a vehemence 
which never stopped to consider matters of secondary 
importance, and he knew how to give his ideas a shape 
so clear and distinct, that his reasoning became obvious 
to all. Take, for instance, his proclamations, in which 
his subtle ability in special pleading is joined to the 
most captivating eloquence, and in which his convictions 
are so manifest that the idea which he suggests, or the 
solution that he proposes, forces itself upon the minds 


of others, without their even being conscious of the 
paradoxes that he concealed with such consummate 

He solved all difficulties and decided every question ; 
and if he did not always defeat his adversary by the 
force of his logic, he invariably made a great impression 
upon him. 

But one of his peculiarities has been too much 
neglected by the historians, for Napoleon, who could be 
overbearing and self-willed, blunt and imperious with 
the generals of his army and with high functionaries, 
who spoke in rough and strident tones suggestive of 
reproach, was careful to enlighten himself, and to make 
personal inquiries among the people of the lower classes ; 
and by contact with them, he formed and reformed his 
own opinions, so that when the time came for discussion 
he was fully equipped and prepared to argue, on the 
authority of his acquired experience. Objections ? He 
had foreseen them. Prejudices ? He had dispelled 
them. Practical solutions those which come readily 
to the minds of the people ? He had already mastered 
them, made them his own, as it were, and perfected 
them, of course. And thus it was that the theorists 
were compelled to yield to the force of his demonstrations, 
which went straight to the point. 

Indeed, we should be underrating Napoleon's in- 
telligence and sagacity if we supposed him to be so un- 
wise as to refrain from taking the opinion of others ; 
but he made his inquiries privately, and only consulted 
those from whom he felt sure of obtaining some useful 
information or practical hint. His valet alludes in his 
" Memoirs " to this custom of Napoleon : " The Emperor 
was in the habit of saying that he laid before the 
peasants the difficulties of the State Council, and he gave 
the Council the benefit of the peasants' observations." 


I will endeavour to justify this judgment by general 
principles and particular episodes. 

Napoleon professed the opinion that the head of 
a State cannot judge of the real opinion of the country, 
nor gauge the feeling of the people, by studying the 
police reports. The author may be permitted a short 
digression, in order to compare the attitude of Napoleon 
in this respect with that of the sovereigns who preceded 
and followed him on the throne of France. 

For instance, if we read the official reports on the 
examination which the unfortunate Louis XVI. was 
made to undergo before capital sentence was passed 
over him, one thing seems to strike one and that is 
the absolute ignorance in which the unhappy monarch 
was kept by the very men who should have revealed 
to him the aspirations, and passions, and hatred which 
surrounded his tottering throne. Undoubtedly, the 
questions which were put to the monarch during the 
course of his trial were prompted by the most flagrant 
and systematic prejudice ; but still, the impartial his- 
torian, who judges men and events dispassionately, 
cannot fail to recognise the disastrous effect that was 
likely to be produced on the biassed judges by the dis- 
tressing replies which fell continually from the King's 
lips : "I didn't know. ... I never heard it men- 
tioned. ... I was not informed. ... I was assured 
of the contrary." 

As to Louis XVI 1 1., he would appear to have been 
very much struck by the state of isolation in which 
Louis XVI. had been kept, both by his courtiers and by 
the traitors who surrounded him. His deep knowledge 
of the history of the Empire prompted him to a close 
scrutiny and analysis of the causes secondary, no 
doubt, but none the less certain which had contributed 
to the extraordinary popularity of the Emperor. And 


as Louis XVIII, who was a martyr to gout, could not 
emulate Napoleon's activity, he resolved to follow two 
courses to receive every day the reports of the police 
(which were always flattering), but to credit none of 
them, unless they could be thoroughly substantiated. 

Louis XVIIL's condition of mind, in this respect, is 
admirably expressed in Lenotre and Martin's charming 
work, " Colinette." The following dialogue is taking 
place between the king and his secretary, d'Albarede, 
while the latter is reading out to him a confidential 
report on the state of public feeling : 

" The performance of Athalie was marked by an inci- 
dent which gives substantial proof of the inviolable attach- 
ment of the French people to their legitimate monarch. 
At the moment when the actor who plays the part of Joad 
exclaims, ' Tis the blood of our Kings ! ' all the spectators 
stood up, and, stirred by the most touching enthusiasm, 
raised their hands towards heaven, and, with tears in their 
eyes, swore to die for their king and for his august family. 
The performance was interrupted for several minutes, and 
all the allusions which occur in the play were received with 
frantic applause. . . ." 

THE KING (very sceptical) : " And how much do you 
pay for all this ? " 

D'ALBAREDE (abashed) : " Pardon me, sire, but I don't 
quite understand." 

THE KING : "I merely ask, how much I shall be called 
upon to pay when a bill is sent in for these insipidities." 

D'ALBAREDE : "I hardly know whether your Majesty 
wishes me to proceed." 

THE KING (without raising his head) : " You may go 

D'ALBAREDE: " Report on the feeling among the peasantry. 
The peasants are filled with gratitude towards the august 
family of the Bourbons. The harvest was carried under 
particularly favourable circumstances, such as had never 


existed under the Government of the Usurper. Providence 
has manifestly blessed the fruits of the earth ; and the 
King, who is all powerful 

THE KING : " All powerful ! What is this new gas- 
conade ? " 

D'ALBAREDE (continuing) : "A letter dated from Malta 
gives interesting details on the voyage of Buonaparte. The 
Usurper is subject to fits of absence, which seem to indi- 
cate approaching insanity. He sits on deck for hours, a 
prey to unhealthy somnolence, the august family of the 

THE KING : " Your reports bore me ! There is not 
one single word in all that you have read out that is worth 
listening to." 

If Napoleon had recourse to the police reports for 
the sake of gaining information, he trusted still more 
to his own personal investigations. 

When he came to Boulogne, there were two special 
places of resort for the sailors and working men, which 
afforded him an opportunity of coming into contact 
with them and of gaining information while listening 
to their talk, or himself prompting their remarks. A 
certain chapel, much frequented by the pious fishermen, 
and also the gardens which surrounded the pavilion, 
allowed of his intercourse with his poorer subjects ; 
and he endeavoured to find out not only what the people 
thought of his schemes, but also what they thought of 
his person. 

Anyone who is not acquainted with the Boulogne 
coast would naturally suppose that the shrine to which 
the pilgrim sailors repair is the Calvary that stands at 
the top of the cliff and commands the whole roadstead. 
This is not the case, for it was only in 1838 that the 
Calvary was removed from the Rue des Signaux and 
placed in the position it now occupies. 


While the revolutionary spirit of impiety prevailed 
in the land, the Sign of Redemption had been prohibited 
everywhere, except inside the temples. At Boulogne, 
at any rate, the removal of the crosses was carried out 
with marks of respect and even of solemnity. The 
municipality explained, in the following terms, the 
reasons which justified their measure and made it neces- 
sary : - 

" Taking into consideration the fact that the Calvaries 
were monuments of piety, authorised by the Government 
in times of peace and tranquillity ; that, in these days, when 
the enemies of our country are doing all in their power to 
bring it to ruin, it is expedient that these Calvaries be re- 
moved and placed inside the churches, for fear they should 
become a sign of fanaticism and a rallying point. It is 
decreed, first, that every precaution be taken to remove 
the said Calvaries, and transport them to the parish church, 
with all the ceremony due to religious worship ; secondly, 
that the citizen Sannier be entrusted with the execution of 
these orders ; and that when engaged on the work, he be 
escorted by a detachment of twenty men, who will oppose 
any movement on the part of the ill-intentioned or mis- 
guided citizens to interfere with the execution of this decree ; 
thirdly, that this resolution be sent to the citizen Roche, 
Cure of this parish, inviting him to take the necessary pre- 
cautions, in order that the removal may be carried out with 
decency and tranquillity." 

However, another place of worship had lately been 
re-opened for the benefit of the sailors, not very far from 
the First Consul's "Post of Observation." This was a 
tiny chapel which had been in existence ever since the 
end of the sixteenth century at Terlincthun, a village 
below the Plateau d'Odre. It was dedicated to Jesus 
Flagelle,* and was the object of constant pilgrimages, 
especially on the part of the fishermen. 

* Jesus scourged. 


This pious tradition has lasted to our time ; and 
before setting out to sea (al mer) for the distant fishing 
grounds, our brave sailors never fail to go and kneel 
in the humble little sanctuary, to place themselves 
under the Divine protection, and invoke a blessing on 
the success of their fishing. Small though it is, at this 


time, the chapel was originally only half its present 
size.* It was given the name of Jesus Flagelle from 
a black wooden statue which was discovered at that 
spot, and which was afterwards 'placed above the taber- 
nacle and religiously preserved. 

At the time of the Revolution, the modest little 

* The Chateaurenault family enlarged it by one-half in 1862. 


chapel escaped destruction, owing, no doubt, to the 
isolation of the spot on which it stood, and to the fact 
that it had prudently been turned into a temporary 
barn and used as a shelter for agricultural implements. 

In June, 1803, Bonaparte received a petition from 
M. Chateaurenault, in which he stated that, " having 
become the possessor of the land on which the chapel 
stood, he solicited the intervention of the First Consul 
towards re-establishing, in its former state, the worship 
of Jesus Scourged, so dear to the inhabitants of the dis- 

A few days later, in agreement with the diocese, an 
official licence was granted for the celebration of Mass in 
the chapel by any ordained priest, on Sundays and 
ordinary feast days, the principal feast days excepted ; 
the said chapel to be considered private. The petition, 
which was presented by Portalis, in the nama of the 
Bishop of Arras, is in the archives of the Episcopate 
of Arras, and in the following terms : 


" Monseigneur the Bishop of Arras begs for the 
necessary authorisation to celebrate Mass in a private 
chapel at Terlincthun, in the parish of Wimille. 

" I have the honour, Citizen First Consul, to beg 
of you to accept my salutations and respect. 


" Approved 30 Floreal, Year XI. 


" For the First Consul, 

the Secretary of State, 

Towards evening, Napoleon might often be seen 


wending his way, without an escort, towards the little 
edifice at Terlincthun, wrapped in a big cloak and a 
soft felt, of irregular shape, which readily lent itself 
to various guises. And strolling about in the little 
hamlet, Napoleon was sure of coming across a group of 
men, exchanging ideas after a day of feverish activity, 
imparting to each other their hopes and fears, and dis- 
cussing the events of to-day and the plans of to-morrow. 
Napoleon took a keen pleasure in mixing with these 
men, and listened to their remarks and forecasts and 
criticisms, with all the more attention, that their quaint 
and peculiar language was unfamiliar to him. 

Sometimes he was looked at with suspicion by the 
inhabitants, who asked themselves who this stranger 
might be. 

On those occasions, he had recourse to an expedient 
by which he quickly dispelled their doubts and gained 
their confidence. He no sooner guessed that the people 
about him were beginning to wonder whether he was, 
or was not, a " friend of the flotilla," than he at once 
took the offensive ; and, leading the attack in the dia- 
logue as he would have done in the field, he forced a 
question home upon the man who seemed disposed to 
question him. Then, aided by his marvellous memory, 
he would quote the exact names, and give categorical 
details, of men and events concerning this region, till 
they were compelled to yield, and forced to acknowledge 
that in these matters he was better informed than the 
oldest inhabitants in the district. 

His great amusement was to prove to his hearers 
that he was as intimate with the history of the ships 
on which they served as they were themselves, and that 
he not only knew the names of the captains who com- 
manded them, but was acquainted with the memorable 
particulars which had brought honour to their flag. 


But when he considered it necessary to remove all 
suspicion for the sake of gaining information by their 
confidences, he would reveal his identity, smiling at 
their embarrassment ; and if they tried to excuse them- 
selves for treating him unceremoniously, he would re- 
assure them good-naturedly, and take his leave, per- 
haps, with one of his brief sayings, which had the effect 
of stirring enthusiasm among all those with whom he 
came in contact. 

During his childhood, the author often heard some 
of the old men say that whenever Napoleon arrived 
near the chapel, and before going away, he used to put 
his hand slowly up to his hat, and remain solemnly 
standing for a few minutes. Was he praying ? Perhaps 
not ; but at all events it was an unmistakable sign of 
respect, which had all the appearance of sincerity. 

The gardens which surrounded the pavilion also 
afforded Napoleon much opportunity to converse 
familiarly with the working men and sailors, for the 
sentries had received orders to relax their strict watch 
at certain hours of the day, and to allow the passers-by 
to enter the gardens, provided they did not come in 
groups. These gardens had been laid out on the south 
side of the pavilion, and connected the Plateau d'Odre 
with a portion of the land afterwards bought by Louis 
Nicolay. The boundaries consisted of ditches, low walls 
of loose stones, and live and artificial hedges. The 
large expanses of lawn were cut up by alleys and paths 
of yellow sand ; and here and there they had planted 
clumps of small shrubs, and surrounded them with 
hardy flowers. Napoleon's garden has long since been 
levelled, in the cultivation of the land ; it is only here 
and there that a vestige has been found to indicate the 
place it once occupied. 

The engineers had made an artificial pond in the 


park,* to relieve the moriotony of the grounds, which, 
truth to tell, presented a somewhat barren aspect ; and 
two black swans, which had been presented to Napoleon, 
were kept on the ornamental sheet of water. 

It is said that Napoleon often stood contemplating 
them for a long while. His persistence in watching the 
movements of the majestic birds was certainly not due 
to lack of occupation on the part of the man who was 
planning an invasion of England. How, then, can we 
explain it ? In the first place, those who are preoccupied 
with absorbing questions, experience from time to time 
an instinctive desire to distract their thoughts by fixing 
them on some other matter, precisely in order to bring 
about a favourable reaction. And if we sometimes see a 
scientist, a philosopher, or the head of an army loitering 
over trifles and apparently wasting time over occupations 
unworthy of their great intelligence, it is only that they 
may rest their brain from the grave problems which 
govern them. Napoleon watched the swans in his garden 
as Charlemagne before him had amused himself with a 
monkey, and as Richelieu would spend his leisure mo- 
ments playing with a favourite cat. 

But how was it, that Napoleon had this unusual 
present of a couple of swans made him ? 

It is true that on his journey to Boulogne he had 
already had four swans " of dazzling whiteness " pre- 
sented to him by the town of Amiens, and which were 
afterwards sent to the Tuileries. 

" When Bonaparte came to Amiens," writes Paul 
Roger, " the Mayor made him a gift of swans, according 
to an ancient custom, and said to him : 

" Citizen First Consul, accept this token of our 
admiration, respect, and love, while receiving this gift 

* The water of the lake was afterwards appropriated by the Compagnie 


of swans ; it is the gift our forefathers have made at 
all times to the head of the State ; the wise Louis XII. 
received it in kindness, the brave Henry IV. condescended 
to accept it. To discharge our debt to you, we have 
doubled the usual number of swans." 

We may, therefore, suppose that the inhabitants of 
Boulogne were desirous of following the example set by 
Amiens ; especially as we learn from local history that 
the hospitality and courtesy of the town towards illus- 
trious personages willingly took the form of gifts of rare 
animals and rich victuals. On one occasion, in 1731, the 
Cordeliers, in the name of the town, offered to the " Gentle- 
men of the law : sheep, goats, hares, leverets, turkeys 
and chickens," on another, in 1768, they sent the King 
" a present of six brace of woodcock at 36 sous, and 
three brace at 38 sous," and later still they offered some 
" superb fish caught in the Channel, to Louis XVI." 

Various municipalities had already paid a graceful 
compliment to the First Consul by presenting him with 
sundry animals, that is to say : "On the 6 Messidor, 
Year XL, in the presence of the Municipal Councillors of 
la Somme, one of the Mayors of the County presented 
himself before Bonaparte and offered him a dove holding 
an olive branch, meaning thereby to imply that France 
hoped, at that time, that he would become the peace- 
maker and restorer of the country." 

But there was a special reason for the presentation 
of swans in this case, it was an allusion to the arms of 
the town of Boulogne in which a swan is represented. 

Ill-natured people have been known to assert that 
the bird on the coat of arms really represents, not the 
graceful animal which in all ages has been thought 
worthy to adorn the royal lakes, but the very silliest of 
all farmyard birds, the vulgar goose with its waddling 


The learned of the district, however, have protested 
against this insinuation, and have established the his- 
torical fact that already in 828 the town had presented 
to the Abbey of St. Medard at Soissons, a banner of field 
sable, on which were represented a swan argent crowned, 
a quiver argent, "or," and two arrows the same, cross- 
wise, and underneath the legend " Boulogne-sur-mer." 

There is another point in the character of Napoleon 
which the author wishes to lay stress upon, for if this 
remarkable man liked to interrogate men of the humbler 
classes for the sake of gaining information, he also gave 
unfailing attention to small matters, often making 
apparent trifles the object of his closest observation. 

The Romans used to say of the Praetor that he had 
no concern with secondary matters : de minimis non curat. 
Napoleon, on the contrary, either as general, consul, 
or emperor, paid the minutest attention to details which 
he rightly considered to be of the utmost importance : 
whether it was a question of clothing or feeding the 
troops, of military articles that were defective, or of 
precautionary measures required by hygiene. One day, 
he had barely reached Boulogne, when he rode to the 
Right Camp and suddenly appeared among the soldiers 
at drill. Making a sign that the exercises were to go on, 
he stood there, attentively watching all the proceedings. 
When the men were at ease, the superior officers came up 
to salute the Emperor and stood around him. 

The soldiers' drill had been performed with exceptional 
regularity ; imagine therefore the astonishment of the 
officers when the Emperor remarked sharply : "If you 
want to have efficient regiments, you must look after 
your men ; don't you observe anything ? " 

Everyone looked, but saw nothing. 

" Don't you see," continued the Emperor, " that 
seven or eight out of every ten men standing at ease, 


keep putting up their hands to their neck ! Everyone 
of them at the same spot, as if they had a sore .... 
Look at them." 

The officers all tried to explain that there was nothing 
significant in this ; "it was a mere coincidence ; besides, 
none of the soldiers had ever made a complaint " an 
unfortunate remark which only served to further annoy 

" My soldiers never complain ; but if they suffer with- 
out complaining, they suffer none the less .... Bring 
me six of your men in succession, the first that come." 

This was done, and the Emperor asked each one of 
them in turn the cause of the gesture he had observed. 

But in answer to their Chief to their great Chief 
especially the soldiers made a point of declaring gaily, 
and even with a certain amount of boast, that there was 
nothing that hurt them in the regulation uniform. 

The men returned to their places, and the officers 
were already congratulating themselves on the result 
of this summary inquiry, when Napoleon directed his 
aide-de-camp to tell the same men that they were to 
appear before him again the following day. 

On returning to his pavilion, Napoleon ordered a 
soldier's uniform to be ready for him that same evening. 
At dawn next day a private soldier left, the pavilion, .... 
it was the Emperor, who was anxious to make a personal 
experiment, in order to see whether he had been mistaken. 
He was first observed to walk at a moderate pace in 
the alleys of his garden, then he changed into quick 
time, and having prolonged this exercise for some time, 
went in and took off his borrowed uniform. 

At the hour of drill he went to the same spot where 
the incident of the previous day had occurred, and found 
the six soldiers drawn up in a line according to his orders. 
Napoleon dismounted, and going jip ^to them, opened 


their tunics, and called the attention of the anxious 
officers to the sores which existed in each case at the 
same place. Some of the soldiers had a wound which 
was only half healed, while others had abrasions of 
the skin. Napoleon had guessed rightly, the defective 
adjustment of the straps passing over the epaulette had 
galled the shoulder and caused open sores. The Emperor 
said nothing, he merely called the attention of the officers 
to the drops of blood showing on the men's chests, 
and dismissed the soldiers. Then, turning to the officers, 
he addressed to them this memorable reproach : " Ask 
her sons to shed their blood for the glory of France, 
and they will do it, but don't let my soldiers bleed shame- 
fully, like ill-harnessed mules ; steel alone makes honour- 
able wounds." 

On another occasion, when he was out walking, he 
passed a canteen where several troopers were drinking 
beer at a little table placed outside. The Emperor, 
happening to catch sight of one of the men making a 
grimace over his glass, went up to them, and addressing 
them cheerfully, produced from his pocket a small 
silver goblet, which he asked them to fill with the tawny 
liquid they had before them. His request was promptly 
complied with, and the troopers watched the Emperor 
as he sipped the wretched beverage without flinching, 
until, to their astonishment, he had drained the cup. 
Then, still preserving his composure, he sent for the 
canteen keeper. " And so, to make a few sous more 
profit, miserable man, you would poison my soldiers ! " 
he exclaimed ; and he gave orders strictly prohibiting 
all further traffic with this unscrupulous purveyor, who 
had made the most of his opportunities at the expense 
of the soldiers' health. 

At the time when the Boulogne Camp was first 
formed, many of the soldiers still wore their hair dressed 


in two long plaits (" cadenettes "), which started from 
.the middle of the head and were then caught up and 
secured beneath the head-gear. Those who still adhered 
to this singular fashion, would not stand any joking on 
the subject, and more than one duel was fought for the 
honour of the " cadenettes." During one of the brilliant 
reviews which Napoleon held at the camp, he was struck 
by the incongruous appearance of these powdered heads ; 
he therefore issued orders whereby the soldiers were 
compelled to give up powdering their heads, and were 
made to wear their hair " a la Titus." It was a ques- 
tion of cleanliness as well as of appearance. 

The Emperor's order raised a good deal of feeling ; 
some of them grumbled, some even spoke covertly of 
resistance, but they all submitted, more or less willingly, 
in the end. 

The official correspondence of the time, proves also 
that the Emperor concerned himself a good deal with 
the hygiene of the troops ; at least, as far as was con- 
sistent with the habits of the period. 

Of course, the modern antiseptic treatment was utterly 
unknown in those days ; in the hospitals, as well as in 
the camps, the agglomerations of humanity bred general 
sickness, and special diseases, for want of proper pre- 
cautions, which the few military doctors were quite 
unable to cope with : in those times the doctor was really 
the surgeon. 

Now the disease which gave the commanding officers 
most cause for anxiety (the reader will forgive these 
inelegant details) was a certain form of itch, which is 
frequently mentioned in the reports which were submitted 
to the Emperor on the sanitary condition of the troops. 
Notably, on March 8th, 1805, Marshal Soult, in a report 
concerning the health of the men at Boulogne, Wimereux, 
and Ambleteuse, writes : 


" In most regiments, a number of men whom it was 
not possible to treat during the winter, are suffering 
from itch, and this cruel disease is spreading all the 
more rapidly from the fact that, independently of the 
contagion difficult to avoid among men of the same 
company the men returning from the fleet bring the 
infection with them. 

" In order to arrest the contagion, it has been thought 
indispensable to reduce the number and strength 
of the detachments on board the flotilla, so that the 
ships may be disinfected by fumigation ; at the same 
time the men in camp who are afflicted with the disease 
will be subjected simultaneously to a severe treatment. 
In this manner, we may be able, I hope, to extirpate 
this terrible malady within six weeks, and then it will 
be possible to reform the detachments in the flotilla : 
but to obtain this result, it will be necessary to slightly 
increase the expenditure with respect to heating and 
medicines ; however, as the advantage thus obtained will 
more than compensate for the expense incurred, I shall 
address a request on the matter to his Excellency the 
directing minister." 

From la Malmaison on March 2ist, 1805, Napoleon 
wrote to Vice- Admiral Decres : 

" SIR, There is not a moment to be lost, to 
start the works for clearing out the harbours of Boulogne 
and Ambleteuse ; spend, if necessary, a sum of 400,000 
francs for this object. I am informed that it will be a 
matter of thirty to forty days' work to restore the 
harbours to their former condition." 

Then, after giving general orders, Napoleon enters 
into a series of apparently futile questions unworthy 
of him, it would seem, but which must be recorded -to 


.his credit. He is not content with merely stating, as 
they do in official reports, that there are so many thousand 
rifles in the arsenals, so many barrels available. What 
would be the use of that, if the rifles are defective and 
the barrels useless ? Napoleon, therefore, makes remarks 
like the following, of which I give the text : 

"A good many of the barrels have wooden hoops; 
they leak, 400 of them must be provided with iron hoops. 
A certain number of barrels is still required to complete 
the water supply for the transports and the men-of-war. 
This matter is a very serious one, see to it without delay. 
Some of the ships have no guard-rails, let these 
deficiencies be remedied. " NAPOLEON." 

, In conformity with the Emperor's instructions, the 
" Master Coopers of Boulogne " were required to inspect 
the barrels used for military purposes, and within a 
few days all the barrels on the " Iron Coast " gunpowder 
barrels, fire-barrels, and water barrels had been closely 
examined, and those that were defective, had been 
made good. 

To conclude this chapter, I quote a letter from Bona- 
parte showing how, even in those days when he was only 
First Consul, he did his best to secure what little comfort 
he could for his men. 



" BOULOGNE, November i6th, 1803. 

" I send you a requisition in respect of the 36th 
regiment. The regiment's effective should be 1,800 
men ; it must be supplied with 200 more great coats. 
The men of the wrecked gun-boats are in need of a 
new outfit ; please give it them. 


" Only 5,000 water-bottles have come to hand. 
It will be necessary to send a good many more, as each 
of the soldiers must have one. 

" Only 10,000 blankets have arrived. 

" I have reason to be satisfied with the shoes I saw 
in the stores, and with the blankets and kettles. But 
I am not equally so with the camp tools, which are 
not of the slightest use ; they are mere store remnants, 
and not worth the transport. 

" I am fairly content with the biscuit ; tolerably so, 
with the bread and meat ; and, thanks to the extraordinary 
measures which were taken with regard to the forage, 
I am satisfied with that. Altogether I notice a great 
improvement in the quality of the supplies, and it is 
only fair to attribute it to the zeal you have displayed. 


So the greatcoats, blankets, shoes, water-bottles, and 
the food, claimed each in turn the attention of this many- 
sided genius. The soldiers were perfectly well aware to 
whom they were indebted for the care of their comforts 
relatively speaking and the feelings with which they 
regarded their Chief, amounted almost to adoration. 



Psychology of Popular Feeling Story of a Potter : his reception 
at the Pavilion The Boulogne Ship-boy and the Em- 

IF, in these days, a man happened to discover a great 
treasure, his first impulse would hardly prompt him 
to go to the sovereign, or the chancellor of the exchequer, 
to say that he rejoiced in having found a means of 
financing the budget, and that the joy and satisfaction 
he experienced in helping his country were sufficient 
to compensate him for his act of patriotism. 

The increasing tendency of politics to become inter- 
national, the cosmopolitan nature of fashions and cus- 
toms, and above all the egoism of pleasure-seekers, who 
would sacrifice their country for the amusement of an 
hour, have all contributed to destroy, it would seem, 
the love of the native soil. Indeed, in society, even in 
the highest set, it is considered broad-minded to affect 
admiration for the avowed enemies of their country. 

In spite of his faults, Napoleon had managed to 
arouse the public spirit to such a pitch of generosity 
and self-abnegation, that, at the time of which I now 
write, there was not one man, even among the poorest, 
but would have been proud to give the great chief a 
proof of his devotion and admiration. 

The following anecdote is worth recording, as it 
justifies the foregoing remarks. 



At the time of the Boulogne Camp, there was a poor 
man living at Wissant,* who, in spite of hard work, 
barely earned enough to keep his children clothed and 
fed. He was a potter, and provided the inhabitants 
with bricks, coarse drain-pipes and pantiles, which he 
manufactured from excellent clay found on a common 
near by, called in the district the " clay-pit," from 
which anyone had a right to take clay according to his 

When digging, the potter had often come across some 
brilliant substances, which, on being struck with a 
hammer, were flattened into a compact mass. Some- 
times, also, he would find lumps of metal ore that 
glistened ; and he asked himself whether this might not 
be the gold of the tradition of the country, t for it was 
whispered that there was gold at Wissant, for those 
who had the luck to find it ; and the old people would 
often tell their sons : " Remember, my boy, there's 
gold at Wissant ; if you dig your field carefully, you 
may find some treasure." 

But the young people only thought that their parents' 
advice was given so as to stimulate their zeal in cultivating 
the land. "A gold mine ? " they reasoned. " Why, the 
gold mine is in their stocking, when it is filled with the 
money we have earned for them." 

One day, however, the potter noticed that there were 
some particularly fine specimens of the stone that con- 
tained the glittering ore, in a certain barren little ravine, 
in which the cattle of the very poor were allowed to graze. 

* To explain the origin of the name Wissant, etymologists have tried 
Celtic, Greek, and Latin meanings, but the most probable explanation is the 
English one, White Sand ; especially if one takes into consideration the 
proximity of this little beach of fine sand to the chalky headland of 
Blanc-Nez (White Point). We must add that the old spelling of Wissant 
was, in 1036, Witsand. 

t In an excursion to Wissant in 1904, the author found some beautiful 
specimens of this sulfuret of iron ore shining like gold. 


No one came to the spot, except the few children who 
now and then led a cow or a goat to feed on the meagre 
pasturage among the bent grass.* 

The inhabitants of Wissant have always had to 
struggle against the encroachment of the sand over 
their land ; for centuries, indeed, the bailiff f and nobles 
in the district kept a workman specially to plant bent 
grass over the sand-hills, to prevent the shifting of the 
sand, which threatened to bury the town. 

Except, therefore, for this workman and perhaps 
now and then a child, no one visited the ravine, which 
to this day is known as " the gold mine." 

The potter now resolved to bore a well in the place 
where he expected to strike a vein of the precious metal. 
He was anxious, of course, not to attract attention, 
and therefore determined to carry on his operations 
at night ; and in order to obviate all risk of discovery 
and competition, he planned a mode of concealing the 
opening to his " mine " during the daytime. He would 
lay boards over it, and cover them with earth. For a 
whole fortnight the honest potter spent his nights in 
feverish activity, working at the fulfilment of the plan 
which he had before him to dig until he came upon 
the gold, and go straight to the Emperor to tell him of 
his portentous discovery. Then, thanks to poor Jean, 
the fleet would be properly equipped, 200,000 men 
landed on the English coast, and he and Napoleon, 
between them, would achieve the conquest of England, and 
Jean thought of the white outline of cliffs beyond the sea, 
that looked like a rampart, perpetually defying all attack. 

Making use of some planks he had picked up along 
the shore, Jean contrived a rough scaffolding, which 

* In the Boulonnais great importance was attached to the cultivation of 
bent grass, among the sand hills along the coast ; and the planting of bent 
grass is frequently mentioned in old historical documents. 

t Bailli. 


enabled him to work inside the well, for it had already 
reached a depth of several feet below the surface. 

As he penetrated deeper into the earth, he fancied the 
particles of gold became more frequent. Perhaps a very 
little more digging would disclose the treasure. In his 
ignorance, he expected to come upon a whole bed of the 
metal, of which he had already collected numerous samples; 
and so great was his excitement that he paid no heed to 
his bleeding hands ; for the skin, softened by the constant 
contact with damp earth which his trade necessitated, had 
very soon blistered in the handling of his rough wooden tools . 

Just as he was about to come up to the surface, 
carrying round his neck the sack he had filled with 
samples of the glittering metal, a plank gave way, 
jerked out of its place by an incautious movement on 
his part, and the whole of the scaffolding fell on the top 
of the inexperienced well-sinker. To make matters 
worse, the sand, which there was nothing to hold back, 
suddenly gave way on all sides, and buried the un- 
fortunate man up to his armpits. To call for help was 
the last thing he thought of doing, for his secret would 
then have been betrayed ; besides, there was no one to 
hear him. By dint of much struggling, he managed at 
last to extricate himself from his lamentable position, 
and reached the level in a half-fainting condition. After 
ascertaining that his precious sack was still fastened 
to his neck, he rose from the ground, to return to his 
cottage. But his ankle had been fractured by a falling 
plank, and so great was the pain caused by the injury 
that the poor man had to drag himself on his knees 
to reach his dwelling. During the days of pain and 
insomnia that followed, Jean was buoyed up with one 
grand thought : as soon as he was well enough, he would 
present himself at the Imperial Pavilion and ask for 
an audience of the Emperor. 


Accordingly, on a certain market-day, the potter 
who was then convalescent, was driven to the little 
town of Marquise in a neighbour's waggon, and there 
he had a choice of vehicles to take him on to Boulogne, 
for there was a continuous traffic of carts between the 
quarries at Marquise and the works that were in progress 
at Boulogne. He was accommodated on one of these, 
with a bundle of straw placed between two blocks of 
stone ; and in this manner he performed the journey 
of several miles, which lay between him and the realisation 
of his dreams. When he reached the Plateau d'Odre, 
he left the cart and made his way, still limping from 
the effects of his accident, to the pavilion. 

There he presented to the officer on duty a letter 
addressed to the Emperor, and requested to be admitted 
at once into his presence, as he had a most important 
communication to make to his Majesty. 

Hearing that the man came from Wissant, the 
Emperor granted his request. On being introduced the 
potter lost no time in preamble, but went straight to 
the point. " Sire," he began, " I feel very happy, 
for I have discovered a splendid gold mine ; and it's 
all for you, and for the army. For myself, I want 
nothing absolutely nothing ! " And, trembling with 
excitement, the amateur miner drew out of his pocket 
several pieces of shining metal, and displayed his prize 
before the Emperor. 

As soon as Napoleon had the samples in his hand, 
he detected the man's error ; the glittering particles 
were not gold-dust, but merely a kind of pyrite, of a 
metallic, golden brilliancy.* 

* In 1870 a manufacturer came to Wissant to examine the ore, and the 
result of his investigations was that the metal at Wissant is the same as 
that found in the mines at Folkestone, which were started in 1810. There 
is still to be seen a large mound of refuse from the shafts and galleries of the 
mine, which is now deserted. 


The potter, who had not yet recovered from his 
injuries, still experienced some difficulty in standing, 
and looked about for something to lean against. " Ex- 
cuse me, sire," he said simply, " but I broke my foot 
in looking for your gold, and I can't stand upright very 

" How was that ? " asked Napoleon, with concern. 

In a few words the potter told his story, adding : 
" But all that is a mere trifle ; the only thing of any 
consequence is that I have found the gold ; and there's 
plenty of it, too, I can tell you ! It's lying about as 
thick as pebbles, and when they open the trench they 
will only have to bend down to pick it up." 

Napoleon, whom his enemies have accused of being 
cruel, could be considerate, nevertheless especially to- 
wards the poor and humble. He could not deal a blow 
to the man who had given such proof of patriotism and 
self-abnegation, by telling him that his discovery was 
worthless, his dreams mere delusion. Concealing, there- 
fore, his own impressions, the Emperor cordially thanked 
the potter, and added that the engineers would care- 
fully examine the ore, and that he fully appreciated 
the generosity and devotion of which he had given such 
manifest proof. 

He then gave orders that the poor man's return 
journey should be made as comfortable as possible, and 
told him that he would go himself and visit Wissant, 
which was so full of historic interest. 

It was owing, no doubt, to the kind reception given 
to the potter, that the inhabitants of Wissant made 
overtures to the Emperor, with a view to inducing him 
to visit their district, and to " restore their ancient 
port to its former splendour." 

And their request was not so extraordinary, for we 
must remember that, even if Wissant was not the 


" Portus Itius " from which Julius Caesar started for 
the conquest of Britain, it at any rate became, in the 
Middle Ages, one of the chief ports for crossing over to 
England ; and the " Chanson de Roland " shows that 
the locality was already famous at the time of Charle- 
magne and his twelve peers. Louis d'Outremer, St. 
Anselm of Canterbury, Henry II., Plantagenet, St. 
Thomas a Becket, and many other illustrious person- 
ages visited the town. 

Who would believe it nowadays ? Formerly, Wissant 
had an upper and lower town, a strong citadel, many 
fortifications, and an important garrison. But in the 
eighteenth century notably in 1773 and 1777 a portion 
of the town, including the town hall, was buried under 
the shifting sand.* 

Wissant was not only an important seaport, but it 
was the great depot for the wool trade between England 
and Flanders. 

It would appear that Napoleon was too much occu- 
pied with pressing events to gratify the wish of the in- 
habitants by going to inspect their town ; he had been 
there once, when he was First Consul, but had merely 
passed through on his way from Amble teuse to Calais. 

I must mention here a little episode which is not 
without savour. 

On leaving the pavilion, after dismissing the potter, 
Napoleon was still holding in his hand the finest lumps 
of the pyrite, when he happened to see a sailor boy, 
who had slipped through the sentries into the grounds. 
Not knowing quite what to do with the bits of copper, 
the Emperor addressed the boy, and without much 
weighing his words, said, " Here, boy, would you like 
to have some gold ? " and handed him the bits of metal. 

* Not very long ago, as a result of a landslip, the window of an old house 
emerged, and on a shelf stood a candlestick. 


The child no sooner held the pieces in his hand than 
he started off at full tilt across the cliff, clearing boulders, 
mounds, and morasses in his anxiety to show his parents 
the gift that had been made him. 

Then, suddenly, Napoleon was seen following him 
dqwn the path, and calling out to him to stop ; but the 
boy, feeling convinced that his prize was in danger of 
being wrested from him, only ran all the faster, till at 
last he slipped on the grass and fell. 

Napoleon, whose agility was proverbial, caught him 
up before he had time to escape again ; and seizing 
him by the arm, told him to give up the bits of 
copper, which he was holding, tightly clenched, in his 

" Give me back those bits," said the Emperor. " They 
are not gold, but only copper." 

But a sailor's hand is short and thick, and strong as 
a vice ; and the boy, standing upon his rights, would 
not let go, and said, resolutely : "If you don't let go, 
I'll shout."* 

Napoleon soon felt that he was getting the worst of 
the struggle ; he relaxed his hold, and holding a big 
silver coin before the eyes of his little antagonist, " Give 
me back the copper," he said, " and you shall have this 
in exchange." 

" No, I prefer the gold," the child replied, with perfect 
logic. ' 

" But it is not gold." 

" Yes, it is gold ; you told me so yourself." 

Meanwhile, the officers who were standing at the 
top of the cliff looked on at this strange scene, and 
wondered what it meant. 

The incident threatened to prolong itself and to 
become ridiculous, when the Emperor put an end to 

* In fishermen's language, " Si t'enne veux pont m'quitter-aller, j'gueule ! " 


it by taking a bright " Napoleon " out of his pocket. 
" Here, take that," he said. " There is no doubt about 
that gold, and you will find that the shopkeepers will 
prefer it to the other." 

The boy was at last convinced by the justice of this 
remark, and seizing the " Napoleon," he then gave up 
the copper without making any further difficulties. 

A few minutes latter, Napoleon entered Admiral 
Bruix's pavilion and told the story to those who were 
present. One of the officers expressed surprise at the 
importance the Emperor had attached to the incident. 

" You must know very little of men," said Napoleon 
in sharp and abrupt tones. " The child would certainly 
have said, ' Here is the gold the Emperor gave me.' 
And naturally he would have been told that the Emperor 
had lied. Do you think, gentlemen, that this is of no 
importance ? " 



The Batteries of the Iron Coast Bonaparte and the 
Battery of " Monsters " The Forge at Wimereux The 
"dejeuner" at Ambleteuse : M. d'Offrethun's Snuff- 
boxThe Grand Army and St. Peter's Well The First 
Battery at Gris-Nez The " i " Division at Calais. 

THE name of " Iron Coast," which was given to the shores 
of the Boulonnais, was fully justified by the large number 
of batteries which had been put up along the coast for 
the defence. 

It is possible to trace the position they once occupied 
from their few remnants, and especially, of course, from 
the plans of the period. 

First of all, to the south of Boulogne Harbour there 
were three batteries in close proximity along the Capecure 
beach, beyond the point of the old jetty called Le Musoir. 
These defended the entrance to the Channel. 

Two batteries were placed at the commencement of 
the Portel Cliff range,* one at the base, the other at the 
summit ; and along the plateau extending to the fishing 
village of Portel were four more batteries. A few hun- 
dred metres inland from Portel, in the direction of 
Outreau, there is a range running parallel to the line 
of cliffs, between the spot called Ave Maria and the 
hamlet of La Salle. This was occupied by the Left 

* The ground has been altered very much since" then by the works of the 
Portland Cement Company. 



The big fort de 1'Heurt, standing in front of Portel, 
was built on a reef of rock, and armed with very 
powerful ordnance. Further on, Cape d'Alprech was 
defended by three batteries for plunging fire. 

A little to the north of the harbour, a battery was 
placed half-way up the slope, very near the spot at 
present occupied by the Hotel Imperial ; a second 

(Built in 1803.) 

crowned the highest part of the range at the Tour 

The formidable battery of Tour d'Odre consisted of 
six mortars, and twelve 2/j.-pounders. These six mortars 
which were of the largest calibre ever cast were 
16 inches thick ; they fired a charge of 45 Ibs. of powder, 
and could carry a 6oo-lb. shell a league and a half. 
Each shell fired cost 325 francs. These formidable 
weapons were nicknamed " monster " and " mignonette " 
by the naval and military gunners respectively, and to 
fire the piece a linstock 12 feet long was used. The 
experienced gunner would crouch down, shielding his 


ear with his shoulder, and did not rise until some 
moments after the discharge. 

Napoleon wished to " baptise " this battery by 
discharging the first " monster shell." He fired it, 
but the blood at once started from his ears ; he was 
completely deaf for two days, and his temper, it is said, 
was insupportable. 

Another battery was placed near the Moulin- Wibert, 
and farther on still to the north was the " battery of 

the Republic," 
its armed front 
extending over a 
headland which 
guarded all access 
to the Boulogne 
port. This head- 
land, which has 
since totally dis- 
appeared through 
the action of the 
waves, stood just 

opposite the little monument of the Legion of Honour 
which now exists. 

Opposite the Point of La Creche, an advanced fort 
was constructed in the sea, on the rock ; it was itself 
protected by a battery on land. The sea gradually 
demolished it, and as its ruins were becoming dangerous 
to navigation, it had to be entirely removed. Close 
to the entrance to the harbour stood the " Wooden 
Fort " a huge piece of timber- work, erected by the 
First Consul, because the sand on which it was built 
made it impossible to put up a stone structure. 

This fort, which was commenced on ist Fructidor, 
Year XL, was armed with eight 24-pounders, and two 
long-range howitzers ; it was to be kept supplied with 


eprouvec par Napoleon 

The Battery of " Monsters " tested by 

Frcm cm Etching, 1804. 


rations of biscuit, drinking-water, brandy, and cheese 
sufficient to keep fifty men for six days (Soult's report). 
It supported the flotilla vigorously on many occasions, 
and inflicted so much damage on the English, that they 
stipulated for its destruction in 1814, and inserted a 
special clause to that effect in the treaty of peace. The 
town of Boulogne has preserved the memory of the 
Wooden Fort, by giving the name to one of the pic- 
turesque streets in the fishing quarter. 

This famous fort occupied very much the same 

The Allies exacted its Demolition in 1814. 

position as that of an ancient boom, which was placed 
there towards the end of the third century by Constantius 
Chlorus, to blockade the entrance to the harbour. 

Eumenius,* in his " Panegyrics," describes this 
erection, consisting of " beams driven into the earth 
in the form of stakes, and connected with each other 
by large piles of stone." 

At that period, in fact, Constantius Chlorus had 
been sent to Boulogne with the title of Caesar, by Diocle- 
tian to wage war against Allectus, the sovereign of 
Britain, f The town was invested by land and sea ; 

* Secretary of Constantius Chlorus. 

t Allectus, a former lieutenant of Carausius, had murdered the latter, 
in order to be himself proclaimed sovereign of Britain. He was vanquished 
and killed at Boulogne by Constantius Chlorus. 


and among other details given in the " Panegyrics," 
we read that the British fleet brought by Eumenius 
consisted of an " incalculable number of ships." 

To return to the period which interests us at present 
(1803-05), we may remark that there was also a well- 
armed rampart to the north of the Tour d'Odre, near 
the farm of Honvault, and on an islet was the Tour 
de Croy. 

As for the port of Wimereux, of which I am about 
to speak, it was protected by two military works, to 
right and left of the pile stockades. And the armament 
of coast batteries was continued, in this way, at every 
favourable point along the coast, between Etaples and 
Cape Gris-Nez, a strategic point of the utmost import- 
ance. So important, indeed, was it considered by 
Bonaparte, that he gave it his first consideration, and 
ordered the most powerful pieces of his coast artillery 
to be placed in the Gris-Nez battery. 

The powder magazines stood at the far end of the 
Boulogne harbour, behind a wooden bridge, called the 
" Service Bridge." At nightfall, no one was allowed 
to cross the bridge without giving the password to the 
second sentry for the first one allowed people to go by 
without challenge ; but if the passer-by was ignorant of the 
password, he was pushed back towards the first sentry, 
whose orders were to thrust his bayonet through the 
body of the man who was foolhardy enough to venture 
on to the bridge. 

These precautions were essential, for one spark of 
fire would have sufficed to blow up the whole of the 
stores of gunpowder. 

Constant writes : 

" At night, a heavy chain was drawn across the 
entrance to the harbour, and the quays were lined with 
sentries at fifteen paces from each other. Every quarter 


they shouted their alert ' Sentinels, attention ! ' and 
they were answered by the sailors in the tops with 
' Good watch ! ' uttered in drawling, lugubrious tones. 
Nothing could be more dismal and monotonous 
than this roll of voices all shouting in the same 
key ; all the more so as the men who uttered these 
sounds endeavoured to make them as alarming as 

Enormous sums were expended on excavating and 
enlarging the harbours of Wimereux and Ambleteuse. 
The wooden quays and jetties constructed in those 
days can still be traced, and many a tourist has been 
to sketch the picturesque and interesting remains. 
During the summer of 1804, the harbour of Ambleteuse 
could only accommodate 50 ships ; but Napoleon wanted 
it to shelter the Batavian fleet ; and so, for the year 
1804 alone, 942,000 frs. were spent upon deepening the 
channel and building quays. As many as 2,000 men 
are said to have been employed simultaneously in the 

As for the port of Wimereux, by the end of the 
summer it could hold 129 ships ; and this number was 
increased to 237 ships, able to leave the harbour with 
two tides, and without too much crowding. The har- 
bour was defended by a battery of mortars placed at 
the extremity of a jetty, west of the channel. But 
the constant repairs and works necessary to prevent 
the silting up of sand inside the harbour, were a continual 
source of outlay and expense. It was self-evident that 
the Boulogne roadstead could not shelter the whole 
of the flotilla ; and therefore the works begun at Boulogne 
on February I2th, 1800, were supplemented by other 
important works at Etaples, Wimereux, the mouth 
of the Slack, etc. 

On September 2lst, 1803, the Boulogne camp ex- 


tended as far as Wimereux, and on October 6th Bona- 
parte wrote to the " citizen admiral Bruix " from St. 
Cloud : 

" General Soult has sent me a sketch of the river 
at Wimereux. When the works at Boulogne are com- 
pleted, on the ist brumaire, I intend to make a small 
harbour at Wimereux, capable of holding two divisions 
of the flotilla." (Archives of the Empire.) 

On October 2ist, 1803, Bonaparte's scheme was 
put into execution by decree. The size of the new 
harbour which was to accommodate 150 ships was 
" 4 hectares and 24 ares " ; and it was excavated by 
the soldiers of the first and fourth division, converted 
into " navvies " for the occasion. The Roche tte Cliff 
protected the harbour from the guns of the enemy's 
fleet. On March I2th, 1804, the new harbour was 
inaugurated by Marshal Soult and Rear-Admiral La 
Crosse, in the presence of the assembled troops. 

And when, on July 25th, 1805, the 175,000 men 
were waiting for the signal to embark, and when no 
less than 2,300 ships of all kinds were collected along 
the line of coast at Berck, Etaples, Boulogne, Amble- 
teuse, and Wissant, it was the harbour of Wimereux 
which was considered the most easy of egress ; but 
then the sand, formerly obstructing the mouth of the 
Wimereux river, had been removed, or pushed back 
beyond the two pile stockades which formed the 

According to the plans for the great expedition, 
14,000 men, commanded by Lannes, were to embark 
at Wimereux, and 16,000 at Ambleteuse under Davout. 
As for the quays, they were built of wood, as may be 
seen from the 200 great piles still visible at the present 
time. A fort was constructed on the beach, and was 
armed with powerful guns. Nothing but ruins are left 


of it now, and before long the sea will have carried off 
its last remains. 

Sundry medals which have been found in the sand 
at Wimereux * prove that it was formerly a Roman 
town at the time of Julius Caesar's occupation of the 
coast of the Morini in 55 B.C. 

Adjoining the battery at Wimereux were the military 
forge and grates for the heating of shot ; and sometimes 
Napoleon used to go and see the men at work. On one 
occasion, one of the workers picked up a red-hot cannon 
ball, with the long pincers, and showed it to Napoleon : 
" Look here, Citizen General," he said ; " it is just 
like one of those plums we used to send them at Fort 

" Oh, it is you, is it ? " replied the Emperor, 
who remembered seeing the man at Toulon ; then, 
not wishing to encourage the familiar language to 
which he was no longer accustomed, he added : 
" Your shot isn't red enough ; it ought to be nearly 
white, and scintillate like stars, all over." 

Before leaving, however, he directed that a gratuity 
should be given to the man, and ordered double rations 
of wine and brandy to be distributed among the 
workmen ; then he went down to the shore. 

Ambleteuse, which, we have every reason to believe, 
was the " portus citerior " of which Caesar speaks, lies 
at a distance of two and a half leagues from Boulogne ; 
the numerous objects discovered there, and which are 
known to have been in use among the Romans, would 
seem to prove that the bay of Ambleteuse was one of 
the places in Morini where they were quartered. 

* The origin of the name of Wimereux has been discussed ; but if we 
remember that the river which gives its name to the place was formerly 
called " Vime," and that its banks were overgrown with rushes, we can trace 
the name to the Latin word Vimen, signifying rush, osier, and to the old word, 
" rieu," river thus obtaining a satisfactory meaning for the name. 


For many centuries the port of Ambleteuse was 
rather an important one ; and in 1544 the English made 
it one of their strategic positions by establishing a 
redoubt called the Red Fort ; but they were driven out 
by Henri II. The harbour, however, was allowed to 
fall out of repair ; so much so, that it disappeared almost 
entirely, and the sand silted up to such an extent at 
the mouth of the Slack, that the waters flowed back 
towards Marquise and turned the river meadows into 
a lake. This is the lake of Raven thum, alluded to in 
the Archives of Notre Dame, of Boulogne. As it be- 
came difficult to distinguish the river from the lake, 
it was finally known as the " Slack," a word which 
appears at first to be a foreign name. 

Towards the end of the seventeenth century, Amble- 
teuse came very near towards regaining its former 
importance, for at the time that Louis XIV. was anxious 
to establish a strong position on the Channel, as a menace 
to England, he came with Colbert to inspect Amble- 
teuse, amongst other places ; and the result of his visit 
was that Vauban was instructed to plan and carry 
out important fortifications. But these ambitious 
schemes were only partly realised. Nevertheless, Amble- 
teuse remained a fortified place till the period of the 
French Revolution ; and when the English made an 
attempt to land there in 1708, they were forced to aban- 
don the scheme. 

Napoleon, realising the advantages of the position, 
as Caesar, Charlemagne,* and Louis XIV. had done before 
him, was anxious to make the harbour of Ambleteuse 
serve his purpose ; and so it became one of the chief 
points of concentration for the flotilla. 

Monseigneur Haffreingue,f who was born in 1785, 

* Charlemagne went to Ambleteuse in 792 to organise the defence of the 
coast, and to repel the Norman invasion. f Born 1785, died 1871. 


at Audinghen, quite near Ambleteuse, was better ac- 
quainted than anyone with everything concerning the 
encampment of the Grand Army on the Boulonnais 
coast, for he was about twenty at the time of which I 
write. We, who for several years were among the pupils 
of this good priest as remarkable for his deep faith 
as for his lofty ideals frequently had the opportunity 
of listening to the reminiscences of his childhood. 

Amongst other facts concerning Ambleteuse, Mon- 
seigneur Haffreingue related that on one occasion, in 
1804, Bonaparte instructed the engineers to carry out 


certain works necessary to the preservation of the 
" spring of St. Peter d' Ambleteuse," which was said 
to be miraculous by the inhabitants of the country. 

Later on, a chapel * was built over the well. This 
edifice can still be seen standing at the base of the cliff 
at Ambleteuse ; the tradition attaching to it is closely 
related to our subject, as will be seen by the 
following : 

The inhabitants of Britain had embraced the Christian 
faith in the second century, and they retained their 
religion in peace till the fifth century. Then followed 
the conquest of Britain by the Saxons, and the new 

* M. Hamy, Cure of Ambleteuse in 1845, erected a small Chapel in the 
place. He was presented with a relic of St. Peter of Ambleteuse, for the shrine, 
by the Abbe Leroy/professor at Monseigaeur Haffreingue's College at Boulogne. 


invaders drove back the inhabitants, destroyed their 
churches, and built temples to their own gods. Pope 
Gregory the Great, having at heart the conversion of 
the Anglo-Saxons, sent some monks to their island 
with the illustrious St. Augustine ; and among these 
missionaries were Laurence, and Peter, who became 
St. Peter of Ambleteuse. The new apostles established 
themselves at Canterbury, where, by their piety and 
charity, and their continual preaching, they made 
so deep an impression on the inhabitants, that on Christ- 
mas Day, 597, Augustine baptised over ten thousand 
English heathens. 

At that time, Ambleteuse was such an important 
place that most travellers bound for England sailed 
from this port. 

Peter was subsequently made abbot of the monastery 
at Canterbury, founded by St. Augustine ; and a few 
years later he was sent as Ambassador to the French 
court by King Ethelbert, who placed great reliance 
in his wisdom and prudence. But while on his way 
to execute the mission with which he had been entrusted, 
his ship foundered, when only half-way across the Channel, 
and went down with all on board, on January 6th, 608. 
The body of St. Peter was washed ashore at the base 
of the Ambleteuse cliffs. According to the tradition, 
a spring gushed from the spot where his body was found ; 
it was looked upon as miraculous by the inhabitants, 
and became a favourite pilgrimage resort for those 
afflicted with " malignant fevers." In a manuscript 
by Feramus, dated 1687 (Archives of Notre Dame, of 
Boulogne), we read that " the inhabitants went to 
drink the water from this spring, which cured those 
who were afflicted with fever ; and the pious custom 
lasted up to the time of the capture of Boulogne by 
the English." 


The body of the holy abbot was taken to Boulogne, 
where it became an object of the greatest veneration. 

The information and details given to the author 
by Monseigneur Haffreingue concerning the spring at 
Ambleteuse are confirmed by an interesting document 
found in the archives of the church at Audinghen, a 
village close to Ambleteuse. This is a report, drawn 
up by Monsieur Haffreingue,* cure of that parish, 
and addressed to M. Lecomte, the vicar-general, who 
had been directed by his Eminence the Cardinal de la 
Tour d'Auvergne to attest the authenticity of the relic f 
found in a wall of a house in Boulogne, where it had 
been concealed in 1793 to shield it from desecration at 
the hands of the Revolutionists. 

" SIR 

" I enclose, together with the report forwarded 
me by you, a Life of St. Peter, Abbot, which contains 
all the information that the bishop requires, concerning 
the origin of the worship of that saint in the district. 
The celebrated spring, alluded to by the author of the 
Life, was re-discovered in 1791 or '92. I was at that 
time a child of eight or nine, and remember going 
over to Ambleteuse, with my brothers, on the day which 
had been appointed for the clearing away of the sand 
which covered the spring. I remember, also, the delight 
of the inhabitants when it was disclosed, and how they 
pressed forward to drink of the water, which was very 
plentiful ; so plentiful is it, that at the time of the 
Boulogne camp it more than sufficed for the needs of 
the soldiers, for whose use it was exclusively reserved. 
To protect it from another encroachment of the sand, 

* Brother of Monseigneur Haffreingue. 

t A portion of the femur " pars femoris sancti Petri Ambleteusis." 


Napoleon had it surrounded with a high wall. . . . You 
will gather from the letter of M. Hamy, cure of Amble- 
teuse, how devoted his parishioners are to the worship 
of St. Peter, who is the object of their highest veneration. 
If his Eminence deigns to establish the authenticity 
of the relics, after satisfying himself that the proofs 
are sufficient, the joy of the people will be unbounded. 
" I seize this opportunity, sir, to beg of you to accept 
the assurance of my profound respect, with which I 

' Your most sincere, humble, and obedient servant, 

" Audinghen, July 6th, 1845." 

It is an established fact that the supply of water 
was so abundant, that it sufficed for the requirements 
of the flotilla and of that portion of the army which 
was encamped on the plains of Ambleteuse that is, 
from 20,000 to 25,000 men. 

Between the spring and the sea, was a military 
earthwork, which Bonaparte included in the system of 
detence he organised at the mouth of the Slack. This 
work was called "St. Peter's rampart." 

There is no doubt, therefore, that Bonaparte did 
order the engineers to construct important works round 
the reputed miraculous spring. It has been said that 
if a general, in our days, gave proof of such in- 
dependence of spirit, he would certainly be charged 
with inveterate clericalism. 

But Bonaparte went his own way, and setting aside 
all fear of the world's opinion, only considered the 
one thing of importance to secure for his soldiers a 
supply of pure water. 

The First Consul appears to have been at Amble- 
teuse on more than one occasion ; but we have a record, 


at all events, of his being entertained at a dejeuner 
given in his honour by M. d'Offrethun, a fine old man 
of eighty-nine years of age, in the " Government House," 
now the " Chestnut Villa." On taking leave of his host, 
Bonaparte expressed his satisfaction at the cordial 
reception he had met with, and presented Mr. d'Offrethun 
with a gold snuff-box * in remembrance of his visit to 

In connection with this, the author must be per- 
mitted a slight digression. 

It was Bonaparte's habit, not only to constantly 
take snuff himself, but to give a snuff-box when he wished 
to make a present to anyone. What was the reason of 
this custom ? For it is more than probable that he 
had some ulterior motive in this respect. If we inquire 
closely into the many little originalities and idiosyn- 
cracies not to say tricks peculiar to illustrious person- 
ages, we may find that they were really deliberate acts, 
done expressly to serve a purpose ; and, looked at in 
this light, we find that they are proofs of discernment 
and skill. Napoleon's snuff-box is an instance of this. 
Shrewd as he was, he fully realised the value of a pinch 
of snuff, opportunely offered or taken. When offered 
in the course of an interview, it was an easy form of 
politeness, which served not only to flatter the man 
he was addressing, but also to bafHe him at the right 
moment, or even to cut him short altogether. And 
when he conversed with men of the working class, he 
delighted them with this mark of familiarity; it was 
as pleasing to their pride as his mode of addressing 
them with " thee " and " thou," which contributed 
so much to his popularity. 

On the other hand, a pinch of snuff taken with 

* This snuff-box must have been round in shape, as it had sometimes 
been mistaken for a watch. 


apparent nonchalance, gave him an opportunity for gain- 
ing time, when he wanted to collect his thoughts before 
making a decision, which was always final, or when 
any impetuosity or anger made it necessary for him 
to recover his self-possession. 

Many a time did he offer a " courteous pinch of 
snuff " during the debates in the Council of State. 
When the Emperor saw that a proposal he had 
laid before the Council was not " going as well 
as he wished," he betrayed a nervous impatience 
in all his movements, and had recourse to 
ingenious methods of distracting attention from his 

On such occasions, if he noticed that the attention 
of a Councillor was fixed on himself, he would make 
him a sign and stretch out his arm, moving his finger 
and thumb, which implied, " Give me a pinch of snuff." 
The member, of course, would hasten to pass his 
snuff-box to the Emperor, who would take a pinch, 
and then toy with the box, scattering the powder 

The box generally found its way into the Emperor's 
pocket, for in his pre-occupation he forgot to restore 
it to its owner ; sometimes three or four disappeared 
in this way at one sitting, and it was only on leaving 
the Council that he discovered what he had done in 
his absent-mindedness. Needless to say, the snuff- 
boxes were returned without delay to their rightful 
owners. Sometimes, in fact, they underwent an agree- 
able change on leaving the Imperial pocket, and the 
member who had perhaps lent a modest little tortoise- 
shell box received in exchange a gold one, ornamented 
either with diamonds, or his master's miniature. When 
anyone had done him a great service, Bonaparte did not 
content himself with offering a pinch of snuff ; he made 


special gifts of costly snuff-boxes, which were ordered 
expressly for presentation purposes. Their value was 
such, that they were simply regarded as precious trinkets ; 
for the exquisite miniature, set in diamonds, which 
generally appeared on the lid, made the recipient forget 
the powder that was inside. 

And besides the artistic merit of these gifts, there 
was a personal interest attaching to them which made 
them doubly valuable. For instance, when, in 1803, 
the First Consul was desirous of rewarding the guardian 
and watchman of the Gris-Nez battery, near Amble- 
teuse for the zeal they had displayed, he simply gave 
them each a present of money, just as in 1804 he thanked 
the Boulogne pilot Fournier, who had saved the lives 
of eleven shipwrecked soldiers at the risk of his own, 
by awarding him a certificate of honour and a sum 
of 500 francs, to which Bruix added another 200 francs. 
But when Napoleon wished to treat anyone with dis- 
tinction, he would give him a snuff-box as a token of 
his personal regard. 

The cost of these gifts was generally between 
2,000 to 3,000 francs each ; but those he in- 
tended for important personages cost a great deal 

We know that Napoleon, while in camp at Boulogne, 
was making preparations for his coronation, which 
was to give the supreme sanction to his title. The 
establishment of the Empire had already been approved 
by a suffrage of three and a half million of votes ; * 
but this did not suffice the modern Charlemagne, and 
on December 2nd, 1804, he was anointed at Notre 
Dame in Paris, by Pope Pius the seventh, who was 

surrounded by his cardinals And what 

do we see in the archives ? Napoleon, no doubt, 

2,579 voted against the Empire. 


hardly liked to make a present of a snuff-box * to the 
Pope ; but he ordered five snuff-boxes at 30,000 francs 
apiece, for the five cardinals. 

In the record of presents given, mention is made 
of many other snuff-boxes, which had cost 7,599 francs, 
10,773 francs, 11,615 francs apiece, etc. In fact, the 
bestowal of these special gifts, as a form of diplomatic 
compliment, assumed an official character, for when 
Bonaparte was First Consul it had already been decided, 
at his instigation, that the presents given in the name 
of the French Government should be caskets of gold, 
worth 15,000 francs for the ambassadors ; worth 8,000 
francs for the ministers plenipotentiary ; and 5,000 
francs for the charge's d'affaires (Nat. Arch.). In November, 
1800, a gold snuff-box, set with diamonds, worth 8,000 
francs, was presented to Boccardi, ex-plenipotentiary of 
the Ligurian Republic. Another was given to the 
Marquis of Musquiz, ex-ambassador of Spain ; this one 
v cost 15,000 francs (April i8th, i8pi). On September 
29th of the same year, the sum of 72,719 francs was 
raised on the Treasury diamonds, in order to pay for 
the setting of seven choice snuff-boxes. The Bey of 
Tunis received in December, 1802, a snuff-box worth 
10,266 francs ; while Ali Effendi, ex-plenipotentiary of 
the Porte, was presented with one costing 15,000 francs. 
And when Napoleon became Emperor, he established a 
credit of 380,688 francs in favour of the jeweller Mar- 
guerite, for a hundred snuff-boxes set in diamonds. 
Lastly, in the Emperor's will dated April I5th, 1821, 
at St. Helena, he mentions, among other legacies, two 

* The present to the Pope consisted of a tiara costing 180,000 francs and 
of a rocket of lace costing 20,000 francs, given by the Empress. Napoleon, 
unwilling to lead the Pope into expense, directed Talleyrand to write to 
M. de Cacault, French Ambassador in Rome,[to this effect, " that the presents 
of the Pope Would give great satisfaction, if they consisted of a cameo, for 
each of the plenipotentiaries, of a casket without a single diamond, and of a 
few rosaries " (chapelets). 


small mahogany cases, one of which contained three 
snuff-boxes, and the other thirty-three bonbonnieres or 
snuff-boxes ; and he writes : "I desire Marchand, my 
head valet, to give these to my son when he reaches 
the age of sixteen."* 

But to return to Ambleteuse. After presenting his 
snuff-box to M. d'Offrethun, the First Consul received 
several of the inhabitants, and then went to inspect 
the fortifications of the little harbour ; subsequently 
he continued his tour of inspection all along the coast, 
passing through Audresselles, Gris-Nez, and Wissant, 
till he reached Calais at 7 o'clock in the evening (12 
Messidor, Year XL). 

When the Emperor had completed his plans with 
respect to the flotilla, he ordered the first battery to 
be placed at Gris-Nez, which was one of the most important 
positions along the coast. The author has seen various 
letters among the " Emperor's correspondence," in which 
he insists on the exceptional importance of this strategic 
point, in preventing the enemy from doubling the Cape. 
Another formidable battery had been set up close to 
Blanc-Nez, south of Sangatte, the earthworks of which 
are still visible, f 

In order to reach Calais, via Gris-Nez, and Wissant, 

* It has been said that among the many legacies mentioned by the illus- 
trious exile in his will, he omits all objects of a devotional character. Mis- 
fortune, they say, had not reawakened Napoleon's religious feeling. This is 
an error. There is, on the contrary, a clause in Napoleon's will, in which he 
desires that " The sacred vessels in use in my chapel at Longwood be taken 
care of by Abbe Vignali, who will deliver them over to my son, when he 
reaches the age of sixteen." And is it necessary to recall to memory the terms 
in which the exile makes his profession of faith at the head of his testamentary 
dispositions : " I die in the Roman Catholic Faith, in which I was born over 
fifty years ago." 

t It is at Sangatte that a French Company some years ago proposed 
starting the submarine tunnel under the Channel ; it was to traverse the 
chalk strata ot Blanc-Nez. Scientifically, the scheme is quite practicable ; 
but it is only natural that, from political reasons, England should not be much 
in favour of the plan. 


Napoleon had to cover a distance of 40 kilometres. He 
performed the journey mounted on a small grey horse, 
and never dismounted except for the halt at Amble- 
teuse till he reached Calais. He habitually rode grey 
horses, in spite of the tradition which generally repre- 
sents him mounted on a white charger.* 

In certain places along the coastline, the cliff drops 
away precipitously from the edge ; but inasmuch as 
the whole of the Iron Coast was armed with guns, Napoleon 
had to ride along the border on his tour of inspection. 
But, as we know, every horse intended for Napoleon's 
use was carefully broken in ; he insisted on having 
horses he could trust, and never mounted any that 
had not been thoroughly trained. For instance, flags 
were waved, swords were flashed in front of them ; 
shots were fired close to their ears ; fireworks were thrown 
between their legs ; and they were taken at a gallop 
up to the edge of a precipice and pulled up short. 

When Bonaparte arrived at Calais on July 2nd, 
1803, he went to a celebrated inn kept by M. Dessin, 
a highly intelligent inn-keeper, who had succeeded in 
making his Hotel d'Angleterre a place of much interest. 
His ingenuity in devising means of attracting customers 
surpassed that of the cleverest hotel managers ; for 
instance, he had set up a small theatre, in one of the out- 
buildings belonging to the inn, which became a useful 
advertisement for his establishment. 

Lord Cornwallis stayed there when he came to France 
to negotiate the Peace of Amiens ; and, as I quoted above, 
in 1803 the First Consul went there also, his mind filled 
with the warlike plans which the rupture of that frail 
treaty had prompted. 

* (Nat. Archives.) Napoleon's horses are quoted in the following manner : 
Trout grey, dark grey, slate grey, dirty grey, pale grey, flea-bitten, dapple 
grey, spotted^grey.^light 'grey, mouse -coloured, ash grey. 


A former Government official living at Calais dis- 
covered an original document, in the archives of the 
office, containing a series of Italian proverbs which the 
illustrious Corsican was fond of quoting when conversing 
with the members of his family,* or with the Italians 
he came in contact with. And also, when under the 
influence of some dominating idea, he would pace to and 
fro, one arm behind his back, according to his habit, 
uttering short pithy phrases and impetuous aphorisms, 
stamping on the floor in rhythm, so as further to empha- 
sise his words. The document in question was probably 
compiled by the collective efforts of the officers of the 
Italian Division then quartered at Calais, under the 
command of General Trivulsi at least, this is the pre- 
valent idea. But a Corsican writer a great authority 
on the history of the First Empire wrote in reply to 
the question I had submitted to him on the subject, 
that, after carefully considering the matter, he thought 
it probable that the author of the document was a 
Corsican called Morini, who was given the command of 
a battalion at the Boulogne camp on his return from 
Italy, and who afterwards became a baron of the 

The Italian Division was familiarly termed the 
" division of the i's," on account of the typical termin- 
ation of the officers' names. For instance, there were 
Ferreri and Palliotti, Commissaries of War ; Bonfanti 
and Calori, Lieutenants ; Bianchi, Jacapeti, Lonati, 
Bejani and Bianchi-Dada, Captains. The commanding 
officer's name was Mazuchelli ; then there was another 
Bonfanti who was Major-General ; and Trivulsi was 

* Joseph Bonaparte, Colonel of the 4th Line Regiment, had his pavilion 
in the left camp, at Chatillon, between Boulogne and Portel that is, exactly 
opposite his brother's pavilion at the Tour d'Odre. Prince Joseph Bonaparte 
was with the second division commanded by General Vandamme, whose head- 
quarters were at Outreau. 


General-in-command. This one-rhymed litany fully 
justifies the name by which the Italians were known. 

The following is an abstract of Napoleon's favourite 
proverbs. Taken as a whole, they are of the greatest 
psychological interest, for it would be easy if one had 
leisure to trace their influence in many an act and 
episode taken from the life of the man who made use 
of these adages in his hours of ease. 

According to information gathered in Corsica, it 
appears that these proverbs are still in common use in 
that country. 

II mondo e di chi se lo piglia. 

The world belongs to him who knows how to seize it. 

Bisogna navigar secondo il vento. 

The sail must be set according to the wind. 

Cento non ne valgon uno. 

A hundred men may not have the value of one. 

II timor del uno, aummenta I'ardir dell'altro. 

The coward increases the courage of his adversary. 

Anche delle volpi, sene pigliano. 

Foxes may be cunning, but they are caught all the same. 

Chi non risica, non rosica. 

Who risks nothing, gets nothing. 

La pratica val piu della grammatica. 
Practice teaches better than books. 

Chi pecora si fa, il lupo se la mangia. 

Who makes himself a sheep, is devoured by the wolf. 

Non e uomo chi non sa dir di no. 
He is not a man who cannot say no. 

Chi fa buona guerra, ha buona pace. 

Who makes a good war is assured of a good peace. 

Chi vuol fuoco, ha da patir il fumo. 

Who wants fire must put up with the smoke. 


Chi non arde, non incendie. 

Who has no zeal, makes no zealots. 

Uomo assalito, e mezzo preso. 

A man surprised is half captured. 

meglio esser capo di gatta, che code di leone. 

Better be the head of the cat than the tail of the lion. 

Chi non sa far, non sa commandar. 
Who cannot perform, cannot command. 

Chi la dura, la vince. , 

Who is firm, prevails. 

Fidarsi e buono, ma non fidarsi e meglio. 
Confidence is good, mistrust is better. 

La gamba fa quel che vuol il ginocchio. 
The leg does what the knee wills. 

Do not these adages seem to reflect Napoleon's most 
private thoughts ? 

A Corsican friend of the author has sent him the 
following remarks with reference to the Corsican pro- 
verbs : 

" Many of the common sayings in vogue in our 
island are of Italian origin. The local dialect modifies 
them but slightly. For instance, the infinitive form 
of the verb which is given in the proverbs, is abbre- 
viated in the Corsican lines.* Bonaparte and his 
Corsican officers naturally spoke pure Italian, because 
they had been educated in Italy, as was the fashion 
at that time among those of the upper classes. The 
priests also preached in Italian." 

These proverbs are introduced into many a Corsican 
popular song, of which they are the theme ; and their 
spirit has inspired many a verse in those popular ballads 
which lulled Napoleon to sleep in his childhood. 

* Thus, Ave is said for>vere, fa for^fare^guverna for governare. 


" Lulled to sleep " is hardly the term to apply in 
this case, for a cradle-song is essentially a song of poetry, 
gentleness, and love. But the Corsican verses breathe 
a very different spirit ; they glow with hatred, implacable 
revenge, and with praise of death. 

In fact, none but the Corsicans have taken such 
sinister delight in extolling death, in courting it, in 
singing its praises, as they have done, from time 
immemorial, in those funereal " voceri " that are 
sung, like hymns, around the hearth; while the 
children's minds are trained to consider the vendetta 
as the will of God, and the only recourse of out- 
raged men.* 

It was in these surroundings that Napoleon first 
began to acquire a " contempt of life," though he did 
not give way to the feelings of revenge which were 
cherished by his countrymen. 

It is quite disconcerting to our notions to read of 
a mother exhorting her sons, as though she were bidding 
them fulfil a sacred duty, to make secret preparations 
for dealing a mortal blow to the enemy of the family 
or even to his descendants, for vengeance is hereditary 
in order to requite an injury to a kinsman, perhaps 
long since in his grave. 

On September 2gth, 1803, Bonaparte wrote to the 
citizen Melsi, Vice-President of the Italian Republic, 
saying : 

" My reasons for wanting to have an Italian corps, 
are that I am anxious to instil a feeling of military spirit 
and pride among the youths of Italy (the only thing 
wanting to enable them to beat an equal number of 
Austrians). That they should have even the appear- 

* In the archives of Genoa, it appears that, between 1683 and 1715, the 
number of murders in Corsica amounted to 28,715 i.e. to an average of 
900 a year for a population of 150,000. 


ance of being well-armed would suffice me ; but they 
should be perfectly well-equipped." 

And it appears that the Italian soldiers did,, make 
use of their arms, even against the worthy peasants 
who had given them shelter under their roof.* And 
there was nothing the Calais people dreaded more than 
having these " villainous Sisalpins billeted on them, 
who were always fighting by day or by night, either 
in the fields, or the fortifications, or even in the houses ; 
who constantly indulged in brawls that were always 
followed by duels ; and who, after they had killed 
their victim, were not ashamed of stripping him of his 

The author found one of these billeting papers among 
his own family archives ; it is signed by Mazuchelli, 
chief of the staff of the Italian Division in France, at 
headquarters in Calais. 

One can well understand the inhabitants of the town 
retaining painful memories of the Italian Division, and 
rejoicing when it was replaced by the dragoons of the 
reserve, who encamped on the Eastern Glacis, or " Plain 
of St. Peter." 

On August 26th, 1804, the permanent Court Martial 
at Valenciennes, presided over by Colonel Bertoletti, 
condemned a Corsican, Jean Armoni, aged twenty-five, 
to be shot. Armoni, a sergeant-major in the 2nd Batta- 
lion of the ist Regiment of the line, garrisoned at Calais, 
was accused of the " premeditated murder " of Captain 
Gerlini and of assault on a superior. He was shot on 
the beach, at 6 o'clock on the morning of September nth, 
at the base of the cliff near the Eastern Glacis at Calais. 

The first Italian regiment left Calais for Ambleteuse 
on November 20th, 1805, and they signalised their 
departure by another crime. 

* Rheims Histoire de Calais. 


While the soldiers were on the march, four drummers, 
who were drunk and lagging behind, met a carter on 
the road a certain Defosse, from Marquise whom they 
tried to compel to give them a lift in order that they 
might rejoin the column. Defosse refused, explaining 
that his cart was already overladen ; whereupon one 
of the Italians raised his musket and stretched the man 
dead at his feet. 



The First Consul at Etaples ; he Visits the Chateau d'Hardelot 
The British Sailor Bonaparte Falls into the Harbour 
His Wardrobe at the Tour d'Odre He visits the Hospital- 
Sister Louise The Emperor Returns to Boulogne After 
the Coronation : Enthusiastic Reception. 

NAPOLEON, having left St. Cloud at 4 o'clock in the 
morning of December 3Oth, 1803, reached Etaples un- 
expectedly early on the following day. The moment he 
arrived he went to inspect the bay and the encamp- 
ments ; then he resolved to go on to Boulogne, following 
the coastline, in order to ascertain exactly what were 
the conditions of the armaments of the coast batteries 
between the two towns. 

The Minister of War had especially called his attention 
to the fortress of Hardelot, which stood near the forest 
of that name to the north of Etaples. 

This historic chateau was built upon ancient forti- 
fications, probably dating from the time that Julius 
Caesar was preparing to invade England. It was a 
fortress strongly protected by towers, drawbridges, 
and deep moats, which were filled from the neighbouring 
lake of Claire-eau. At a later period the chateau, which 
was considered impregnable, was used by Regnier, Count 
of Boulogne, for the detention of prisoners of war (890- 
916) ; * and in 1544 Henry VIII. only succeeded in 

* In Hardrei locum incarcerat. 


capturing it after a long and tedious siege.* In short, 
the opinion was held at the War Office that although 
the fortress had become the private property of M. de 
Chateaubourg since 1783, it might well be made to 
serve for present military purposes. 

But after a rapid inspection of the lie of the land, 
the First Consul soon came to the conclusion that the 
fortress was too far inland among the sand-hills for the 
guns ever to be within effective range of an enemy's 

He therefore continued his course through the Con- 
dette sand-hills where rabbits swarmed and reached 
Boulogne at 10 o'clock in the morning, fully determined 
to concentrate his operations around that town by 
establishing a whole series of works, which, taken in 
their entirety, constituted the Iron Coast. The name 
of Hardelot recalls a rather pleasant anecdote narrated 
by various English and French authors, and which has 
every appearance of truth. It may be mentioned now, 
though it really took place some months later. 

While Napoleon was at Boulogne, a young English 
sailor, a prisoner, managed to escape, and hid himself 
in the Hardelot forest, where he lived for some time 
enduring the greatest privations. By dint of much 
labour he constructed the framework of a tiny boat, 
fashioned from branches which he bound together with 
flexible bark he had peeled off the trees. He had also 
contrived a covering for his frail skiff, made out of 
canvas with a coating of resin, which could be used 
when required and gave the boat the appearance of a 

It was by these primitive means that the daring 
young fellow hoped to reach the open sea, and he 

* " And if your Majestye wolde cause the Castle of Hardelo to be taken " 
(Letter of the Duke of Norfolk to Henry VIII., July 24, 1544)- 


anxiously awaited a favourable moment for the execu- 
tion of his plans. 

Perched in the top of a high tree, he would eagerly 
scan the horizon, till one day he sighted an English 
brig. Without losing a moment he climbed down, 
shouldered his skiff, and ran down with it on to the 
beach. But just as he was about to launch it, the coast- 
guards caught sight of him, and he was taken back to 
Boulogne. The story of the sailor's rash attempt spread 
quickly. The Emperor wished to see the skiff and 
the prisoner, who then explained ingenuously how he 
had intended getting over to England. His scheme 
seemed well-nigh impossible, and yet the only boon the 
prisoner craved was that he should be allowed to carry 
out his design. Napoleon, admiring his courage, said 
to him, " Are you so anxious, then, to return to your 
country ? " " Yes," he replied ; "I want to see my 
poor mother, who is old and ailing." The Emperor 
was struck by his filial devotion, and gave him his liberty, 
providing him with money and clothing, for he was 
almost naked. 

As I have already mentioned, the First Consul 
reached Boulogne from St. Cloud on December 3ist, 
1803. The following day was devoted to a general 
review of the flotilla. Bertrand writes, in his " Precis 
of the History of Boulogne " : 

" While Bonaparte was crossing the harbour, his 
horse stumbled over a cable, causing the First Consul 
to fall in the water ; but as it happened to be shallow 
at that spot, he laughed and exclaimed : ' It's only a 
bath ! ' " 

It was not the harbour proper that Napoleon was 
crossing on this occasion, but the inner harbour above 
the bridge ; in other words, the bed of the Liane, which 
he was able to ford. Apparently, this was an easy thing 


to do, for nowadays even a child could cross the stream 
without any danger when the tide is out. On a previous 
occasion he had already " crossed the Liane by going up to 
his knees in water."* But at the time of which I now 
speak, the waters of the Liane were kept up, by means 
of the sluice-dam, to the level required to keep the 
" floating powder magazines " afloat ; these were moored 
in the middle of the inner harbour, in order to prevent 
a catastrophe in case of explosion, for the arsenal and 
naval barracks stood between the Chateau de Cape- 
cure and the river bank. The powder magazines were 
securely fastened with cables and chains, for fear of 
their being carried adrift with the tide. In addition, 
and above the floating magazines, was a rear-guard of 
boats, also secured with strong fastenings ; and it was 
against one of these fastenings, hidden under water, 
that the First Consul's horse stumbled. " Some gun- 
boats, used for powder magazines, were moored on the 
Liane, at the foot of St. Leonard's Hill, and a chain was 
drawn across the river to intercept all communication.''! 

According to the plans that were drawn up at the 
time, there were boats of this description anchored all 
along the river from the bridge to St. Leonard. 

The author of the " Histoire de Boulogne " adds 
that, immediately after the accident, Bonaparte, who 
was wet through, " ran up to the Tour d'Odre to change 
his clothes," and then returned to his inspection, which 
was continued as far as the roadstead. 

This incident leads us to the subject of Napoleon's 

The Emperor was usually in uniform, especially when 
at the Boulogne camp. On Sundays, and on levee days, 
when, for instance, he received the commanding officers 
at the Tour d'Odre, he wore the uniform of the Foot 

* Bertrand. t Loc. cit. 


Grenadiers of the Guard a blue coat with white facings. 
On week days he wore the uniform of the Mounted 
Chasseurs of the Guard, which consisted of a green 
coat lined with scarlet cloth, the cape, facings, and 
pipings of the same colour. The price of this uniform 
varied from 200 to 240 francs, not including the epaulettes. 

As for the grey riding coat (" redingote grise "), it 
corresponded to the officers' great-coats of the present 
day, and was worn in cold or wet weather ; if it pre- 
sented that " bulky " appearance which foreign carica- 
turists loved to exaggerate, it was because he never 
removed his epaulettes, for which reason his tailor was 
instructed to " cut the armholes very large." 

As an example of the Emperor's expenditure on 
his wardrobe, I quote the following tailoring account : 

For the months of Vendemiaire, Brumaire, Frimaire, 
Nivose, and Ventose, Year XIII. Sixty-six waistcoats and 
sixty-six pairs of breeches of white kerseymere, at 90 
francs the waistcoat and the pair of breeches. Enlarged 
and repaired various uniforms of the Guard. Supplied 
one grey riding coat in Louviers cloth, 200 francs. One 
pair of embroidered velvet breeches, 120 francs. Four 
silk wadded waistcoats, 192 francs. Twenty-four pairs 
of linen drawers, 480 francs. Three uniforms of the 
Guard, lined scarlet, at 250 francs, and three pairs strong 
epaulettes at 150 francs the pair. Twenty-four pairs 
of drawers at 20 francs. Replaced buttons on the eagle 
and on a uniform of General-in-Chief, etc. etc. In April 
(Germinal). A hunting coat, braided, 550 francs. A 
hunting overcoat, 200 francs. A brown twill coat with 
plated buttons, 190 francs. A twill lilac grey coat, 
plated buttons, 190 francs. A uniform of the Guard 
with strong epaulettes, 400 francs. Making an em- 
broidered purple poult-de-soie coat, 5 francs. Twenty- 
four pairs of drawers at 20 francs. Thirty white kersey- 


mere waistcoats and pairs of breeches at 90 francs. 
Fourteen badges at 60 francs apiece. Four white silk 

In a consignment to Milan, the following items are 
mentioned : Sixty-two waistcoats and sixty-two breeches 
at 70 and at 90 francs (waistcoat and breeches re- 
spectively). Six pairs of trousers and six waistcoats 
at 100 francs. A green uniform of Chasseurs of the 
Guard, with epaulettes and badge with massive silver 
eagle (70 francs), 470 francs. Then in Thermidor, 
Bonaparte ordered a supplementary outfit in view of 
his approaching visit to Boulogne, for although it was 
the height of summer, still, it was always fresh up at 
the pavilion on the summit of the cliff, and he would 
require special protection for his excursions, in wind 
and rain, along the coast, and for his inspections in 
the roadstead. He ordered, therefore, four grey riding 
coats, so that he might be sure of always having a dry 
one to change into, if perchance he was soaked with 
the sea or rain. The following items were delivered 
to Bonaparte at Boulogne : " Nine green coats (Mounted 
Chasseurs), at 210 francs a pair of epaulettes, 150 
francs and badge of the eagle, 70 francs. Four grey 
cloth riding coats, at 200 francs. Enlarging sleeves of 
two quilted robes, re-lining sleeves of a coat (of the 
Guard), changing the lapels and facings of another, 
etc. etc. Total, 32,167 francs. Reduced to 29,000 
francs, after checking." 

We see by these lists that the number of breeches 
required by Napoleon was considerable ; in fact, judging 
from the few tailors' accounts that have been found, 
the total appears incredible. And yet these garments 
were carefully mended as well, for we find the following 
quotations : Mending twenty-seven breeches at i franc 
each ; and replacing silk buttons to ten breeches. But 


to account for this profusion we must remember not 
only that Napoleon was constantly in the saddle, but 
that he was a very poor rider as well, and the moment 
his mount increased his pace, Napoleon " skated " in 
the saddle. 

When disengaged from his inspections in the Right 
and Left Camps, Napoleon found time, during his short 
leisure moments, to check all the items of the robes 
to be worn by him and the Empress at the coronation 
a solemnity which to him was an affair of State. 

The few items quoted here are extracts from a 
memorandum submitted to the Emperor by the chief 
purveyors of the period. Picot, embroiderer to the 
Emperor and Empress, Rue St. Thomas-du-Louvre : 
; ' The large imperial mantle of purple velvet, embroid- 
ered gold, strewn with bees, 15,000 francs. Mantle of 
lesser state, purple velvet, white satin facings, gold 
embroidered, 10,000 francs. Coat of purple velvet, 
embroidered, with waistcoat of white velvet, and em- 
broidered garters, 3,500 francs the belt, cord, and 
button, shoulder belt of purple velvet, gold embroidered, 
and a second pair of garters, 1,200 francs. Total, 29,700 
francs ; reduced to 26,000 francs." 

" Madame Vve. Toulet, furrier. Fur for Emperor's 
mantle, 18,220 francs ; and for fur on Empress's 
mantle, 12,460 francs." Madame Toulet's account 
was substantially reduced, and she received 27,680 

" M'elle. Fouret, embroiderer. One pair white gloves, 
and one pair white silk stockings embroidered in gold, 
94 francs." 

The embroidery on the robes had been made by 
Picot, but the materials were paid for separately. 

;c Vacher, silk mercer to their Majesties. For the 
coronation robes : white satin, white velvet, crimson 


velvet, Tyrian purple velvet, etc., 2,515 francs. For 

the mantle of the Empress : 22 metres of Tyrian purple 

velvet, 614 francs " (Nat. Archives). 

" Poupart, special hatter to the Emperor. Two 

hats with feathers, one embroidered in gold, 1,020 francs." 
" Jacques, special bootmaker to the Emperor. One 

pair white velvet shoes, embroidered in matt gold from 

a design by Isabey, 400 francs." 

" Biennais, goldsmith to the Emperor, Paris, Rue 

St. Honor e, ' Au Singe Violet.' " His account for items 

supplied for the ceremony of anointing and for the 

coronation amounts to 36,342 francs. 

A crown of laurels, 8,000 francs. Case for crown, 

1,350 francs. Gilt sceptre, surmounted with an eagle 
holding a thunderbolt, 3,500 francs. The Hand of 
Justice, ivory and silver gilt, 2,800 francs. Orb, silver 
gilt, 1,350 francs. Case for the three, 400 francs. 
The Collar of the Grand Order, 5,000 francs. Braid 
for his Majesty's hat in chased gold, 290 francs. 
Maces of the ushers, silver gilt, 2,400 francs. Eight 
swords, at 150 francs, for the valets. Two salvers, 
silver gilt, for the offerings, 930 francs, etc. 

As for the estimate submitted by Mme. Raimbaud, 
the celebrated dressmaker of the period, it was accepted 
in principle, save for the reduction which the Lord 
Chamberlain Charles Maurice (Talleyrand) was instructed 
to make on all accounts sent in to him for payment. A 
credit of 650,000 francs had been opened for the costumes 
of the Emperor and Empress and the officers of the 
Crown. With regard to what concerned the Empress '. 
" Model of mantle, purple velvet, 800 francs. Em- 
broidery of Imperial mantle, making, and clasps, 16,000 
francs. Court train, white velvet, embroidered gold, 
7,000 francs. Coronation robe, white satin, richly 
embroidered and trimmed with fringes, 10,000 francs, 


A garniture in chenille blonde, 240 francs. Court train, 
velvet, embroidered with silver convolvulus, and skirt 
of silver tulle and satin, richly embroidered, 12,000 
francs. Court train, pink velvet, and skirt of satin 
and silver tulle, 12,000 francs. Another court train, 
white velvet, embroidered with bunches of violets ; 
and wit-h a border embroidered in gold, strewn with 
emeralds, and trimmed with fringes ; the skirt in gold 
tulle, very richly embroidered, 12,000 francs, etc. The 
account, amounting to 74,346 francs, was reduced to 
60,000 francs (Nat. Archives). 

The extraordinary activity which Bonaparte dis- 
played was the object of everyone's admiration. For 
instance, on the occasion of his visit to Boulogne on 
June 29, 1803, we read in Bertrand's account that, 
having reached his destination at ten o'clock at night, 
he worked with Decres, Minister of the Navy, till one 
o'clock, when he took a bath and went to bed. By a 
quarter to three at dawn he was already on the ram- 
parts, accompanied by Generals Soult and Lauriston. 
He visited the harbour, inspecting the guns, and giving 
orders, as he went along, that certain angles of houses 
should be demolished, as they obstructed the view. 
Then he stepped into a boat, after arousing the sailors 
who were asleep in it ; paused for a while to watch 
the workmen, of whom there were 1,500 employed 
in the docks ; and made inquiries as to which of the 
forts had most distinguished itself in repelling a recent 
attack. Then he went down to the beach, mounted 
his horse, and rode towards the Fort de la Creche ; 
surveyed the plain on which the Right Camp was after- 
wards situated ; rode over the surrounding country, 
north, east, and west ; had a target set up at sea, the 
shot heated, and tested the range of the guns. After 
this, he went over to the cliffs on the western side ; 


visited the plateau at Outreau, where the Left Camp 
was situated ; and came back to the town at ten o'clock 
in the morning. One day in the following year, the Em- 
peror was reviewing the Left Camp (situated between 
Chatillon, Outreau, and Portel), when he was addressed 
by a woman from Portel, named Marianne Renard, who 
threw herself at his feet, crying, " Justice ! Monsieur 
Bonaparte, justice ! " Her attention was called to the 
fact that it was the Emperor whom she was addressing, 
whereupon she exclaimed : " Justice ! Monsieur FEm- 
pereur ! The English have destroyed my house with 
their bomb-shells ; you are the cause of it ; you ought 
to pay me." " How much did your house cost ? " 
" Fifteen hundred francs." " You shall have them." 
" But who will give them to me ? " " This gentleman," 
said the Emperor, pointing to General Guyot ; " come 
this evening, and you shall be paid." The woman went 
to headquarters, according to the instructions given 
her, and the promised sum was handed over to her. 
Even when he was First Consul, Bonaparte had already 
given orders that the inhabitants whose houses were 
shelled should receive an indemnity. 

Although Napoleon devoted most of his energies 
to the Iron Coast, he did not neglect, whenever he had 
a few hours of comparative leisure, to visit the strategic 
points of the district, or the arsenal and reserve stores. 
He even found time to go to the hospitals, where the 
sight of him was like a ray of sunlight to the wounded 
and sick. 

There must be many Boulonnais who still remember 
Sister Louise, late Superior of the Hospital Sisters, as 
late as 1865, and who have heard her relate how, in her 
youth, she often saw Napoleon when he came to visit 
the patients. He would sit in the dispensary, and 
converse familiarly with the relations of the sick men, 


and inquire after their wants.* Sister Louise also men- 
tioned the following circumstance : " The Emperor 
took a great deal of snuff ; and he dropped so much of 
it on the ground while talking and gesticulating, that 
after he had left I always had to sweep the floor around 
the chair he had occupied during his visit." 

In fact, we can form a very good notion of the enor- 
mous amount of snuff the Emperor consumed, by taking, 
at random, a few items from the Imperial accounts. 
On various dates we find that the following quantities 
were supplied in earthenware jars : 

Tobacco powder supplied to his Majesty by Ancest : 
1 66 Ibs. snuff at 3 francs, 498 francs. Other delivery : 
20 kilos snuff at 6 francs 80 the kilo, 136 francs. 

It has been estimated that the Emperor consumed 
on an average 84 Ibs. of snuff a year. 

This custom of " scattering " his snuff seems to have 
been habitual, according to his valet Constant's account. 
He writes : "It has been said of the Emperor that he 
took a great deal of snuff, and that in order to get at 
it more easily he used to keep some in his waistcoat 
pockets, which were lined with soft leather, for that 
purpose. These suppositions are erroneous. The Em- 
peror never kept snuff anywhere but in his snuff-boxes, 
and though he wasted a good deal, he absorbed very 
little. He would hold the snuff to his nostrils as though 
he were merely smelling it, and then let it drop. The 
ground was strewn with it wherever he happened to be 
standing, but his handkerchiefs were scarcely marked, 
although they were white and of the finest cambric. 
These are certainly not the signs of a great snuff-taker. 
Very often he merely passed the open snuff-box under 
his nose, contenting himself with the scent. His boxes 

* Napoleon III., when he came to Boulogne, also expressed a desire to 
visit the hospital " as his uncle had done." 


were narrow and oval, and had hinges ; they were made 
of tortoise-shell, lined with gold, and ornamented with 
cameos or antique gold or silver medals. At one time 
he had round snuff-boxes ; but as it was necessary to 
use both hands to open them, and that, in doing so, he 
generally let fall either the box or the lid, he gave them 
up. t The snuff he used was ground rather coarse, and 
was a mixture of various kinds of tobacco. At St. Cloud 
he often amused himself by giving it to his gazelles 
to eat. 

"The Emperor only once attempted to smoke a 
pipe, and it happened in this wise. Someone had pre- 
sented him with a very fine Oriental pipe, and one day 
his Majesty was suddenly seized with a fancy to try it. 
But at the very first puff the smoke went down his 
throat, and instead of expelling it from his mouth it 
poured from his nostrils. ' Take it away ! ' he cried, 
the moment he recovered his breath. ' It's absolute 
poison ! Oh ! the swine ! I feel quite sick ! ' And, 
sure enough, his Majesty felt incommoded for at least 
an hour afterwards. He resolved, of course, never to 
adopt the habit of smoking, which, he said, ' was merely 
fitted to while away the tedium of the slothful.' " 

Constant also adds : " When the Emperor had 
finished his toilet he was handed his snuff-box, a hand- 
kerchief, and a little box filled with liquorice, flavoured 
with aniseed, and very finely cut." 

The amount of snuff that Bonaparte absorbed 
or rather scattered led people to suppose, as I men- 
tioned above, that his pockets were filled with it. This 
is what M. de Menneval has to say on the subject 
in a letter to Isabey, the painter : 

" I cannot understand how the story has got about 
that the Emperor took snuff from his pocket. Because 
the Great Frederick was in_the habit of doing this, people 


seem to suppose that the Emperor must have done it 
too. But though Frederick was a very great man, he 
was also a very dirty one ; while Napoleon, on the con- 
trary, was scrupulously clean. He always had in his 
room ten boxes filled with snuff, and as he emptied one 
he took up another. The very idea of taking snuff 
in any other way would have disgusted him." 

When Napoleon went to visit the hospital, the first 
thing he always did was to ask the doctor how " his " 
soldiers were. He remembered their names with extra- 
ordinary exactitude, and always inquired after each one 
personally. He expressed the opinion that men feel 
proud of having an individual name, and that they are 
distinguished by having an appellation personal to them- 
selves. He would have been indignant at the new 
methods of classing each poor patient under a number 
in the hospital, like galley-slaves or convicts in a cell. 

He knew that Jacquemin had broken his arm during 
a manoeuvre on board ship ; that Leduc had cut his toe 
with an axe ; that Delattre had been struck by a .ricochet 
shot, which necessitated a painful operation ; that 
another soldier had had his foot crushed under a gun- 
wheel, and that amputation was inevitable. And he 
would sit by the bedside of these victims of duty and 
address them as " thou," encouraging and comforting 
them to such an extent, that the brave fellows forgot 
their pain, and seemed almost grateful for their accident, 
though it might prove fatal, since it had gained them 
the kindness and sympathy of " their " Emperor. 

He would make inquiries concerning the medical 
attendance and daily food of the patients, and very 
often would order some little extras to be given them 
as an improvement on the regular diet. 

One day, as he was about to leave the hospital, a 
soldier was carried in on a litter, his arms hanging loosely 


over the sides > and swinging with the movements of 
the bearers. 

Napoleon saw the piteous group, and made a gesture 
signifying : " He is dead, isn't he ? " 

"No, sire," replied one of the soldiers, who was 
helping to carry the litter. " I think our comrade is 
only partially paralysed." 

Napoleon approached ; the poor fellow instantly 
recognised him, and fixed his eyes on his master, trying 
in vain to speak. 

" Come, be quiet ! " said the Emperor, seeing his 
agitation and the useless endeavours he was making to 
say something. " I shall hear all about it ; but first of 
all he must be put to bed at once, and while the doctors 
are being fetched, one of you will tell me what is the 
matter with him." 

" Well, it was like this," said one of the soldiers 
questioned by the Emperor a moment later. " Last 
night he was sent out on the cliff opposite Fort Croy, 
on sentry, in a small ditch overlooking a landslip, be- 
cause they were afraid that some of the enemy might 
climb up that way, some night, and spike the guns of 
the batteries. 

" Sentinel Legris had concealed himself so effectually, 
and it was so dark, that it was impossible to find him 
to relieve him. But he was faithful to his watch, and 
in spite of the pouring rain, remained all night in the 
ditch, lying first on one side, then on the other, on the 
soaking ground. In the early morning, when found, 
he was lying perfectly still, clutching his gun with his 
numbed fingers. They thought him dead at first ; 
but when he heard his name mentioned he opened his 
eyes, and then the news was taken to the nearest guard- 
house, and the officers gave orders for him to be brought 
here and here we are." 


While the soldier was telling his story, a hot drink 
was given to the patient in order to revive him, and 
the doctor on duty prescribed a general friction of his 
body, to start the circulation in his numbed limbs. 
Seizing a hot towel that had just been brought for that 
purpose, Napoleon set to work to help the orderly in 
his task. 

" Friend Jean " (that was the orderly's name), 
" you are not rubbing fast enough, or hard enough. 
Here look ! Do as I do rapidly ; don't jerk keep 
time." And the illustrious visitor, entering into the 
work with the will and untiring perseverance he dis- 
played in everything he undertook, gradually increased 
the rapidity of his friction ; while the orderly, on the 
contrary, bathed in perspiration and well-nigh exhausted, 
slackened his speed more and more. Although Napoleon 
pretended not to notice anything, he found it hard not 
to smile at the sight of Friend Jean, who was panting 
and breathless, and would have asked for mercy, had he 
dared, but was ashamed to admit that he could do no 
more. The scene had already lasted a quarter of an 
hour when Napoleon, who never liked being beaten, 
and was always anxious to show his superiority, even 
in the most ordinary circumstances, remarked, in an 
off-hand way : " If we persevere in this way for an hour 
or so, we shall bring him back to life again, you and I. 
What do you say, Jean ? " 

But this was too much for the unfortunate orderly, 
who plainly showed his discouragement, whereupon the 
Emperor added : " Come go and sit down. You are 
tired out ; I can manage without you perfectly well." 

And Napoleon went on with his energetic rubbing 
for many minutes, working mechanically, and con- 
versing gaily all the while. 

Was he actuated by any desire of showing off, on 


this occasion, or was it solely sympathy and fellow- 
feeling for a brave man that prompted him to act as 
he did ? It doesn't matter ; the patient, at all events, 
benefited so much by the treatment, that at one moment 
he was able to raise his arm, and detaining the Emperor's 
hand for a few seconds, he raised it to his lips and mur- 
mured brokenly : " Thank you. Thank you. I feel 
better now." 

Napoleon, pleased with the success of his efforts, 
gently withdrew his hand, and said : " Good-bye ! I 
will come again and see you." 

Nevertheless, it would appear that Napoleon was 
somewhat relieved when the incident drew to a close, 
for he, too, had almost reached the limits of his powers 
of endurance, and had the scene been prolonged he would 
have been compelled to give in ; and this, no doubt, 
would have mortified him greatly. He went again, 
according to his promise, to see his patient, who was 
able to leave the hospital in course of time fully cured ; 
but the cure was only -temporary, for a short time after 
the soldier was struck down again with partial paralysis. 

I must add another instance of the veneration in 
which Napoleon was held by the inmates of the hospital. 
Though they did not attribute to him the power of 
healing the scrofulous,* for instance, their worship of 
the hero led them to make the following remark, which 
became traditional in the hospital : " People may say 
what they like, and may laugh if they choose, but it's 
the fact all the same. The side that is paralysed is not 
the side ' he ' treated." Expressing, as it does, a great 

* There was a belief in former generations which attributed to the Kings 
of France the power of healing the scrofulous. Jean Hendricq writes : 
" When Louis XIII. came to Boulogne he was asked to lay his hands on those 
afflicted with scrofula. He had arrived from Calais the day before. He 
confessed himself, took Holy Communion, and then laid his hands on those 
that were afflicted. The crowd was so great that many of the sick could not 
penetrate through to the King." 


deal of gratitude, with a touch of fetishism, this popular 
sentiment is an interesting one. 

In Boulogne, as almost everywhere else, during the 
revolutionary period, the churches and chapels were 
threatened with being given over to the military authori- 
ties for the purpose of being transformed into bar- 
racks, artillery depots, or reserve stores. 

Used as a Storehouse for the Grand Army. 

Although the special worship of Notre Dame de 
Boulogne was only re-established in the Church of the 
Annonciades in 1809, the public worship had been re- 
stored as early as March ist, 1803, and then the parish 
of St. Joseph of the Haute Ville was established in the 
old Chapel of the Annonciades. Soon, however, the 
military administration obtained the bishop's sanction 
to use this chapel for military store purposes ; the parish 
services were therefore transferred to the Church of 
the Civil Hospital in the Lower Town. 


When the First Consul came to Boulogne, full of 
his scheme to collect 200,000 men along the coast, one 
of his first cares was to discover whether any of the 
premises in the town could be utilised as an arsenal 
or for reserve stores, and whether there were others 
that might be appropriated for the use of the army. 

He went first to the citadel. This fine structure was 
built in 1231 by Phillipe Hurepel, son of Phillipe Auguste 
and Count of Boulogne. It is situated to the east of 
the ramparts and is of octagonal shape ; it has six towers, 
and is partly surrounded by a moat. 

Below the surface of the enclosure of the citadel 
are the vast subterranean passages of La Barbiere ; 
these vaults were specially suitable for the storing of 
arms and ammunition. 

Napoleon's visit to the Upper Town on this occasion 
was marked by a curious incident. As he was crossing 
the " Place," his horse struck his foot so violently against 
a peg driven in the ground, that Bonaparte was very 
nearly thrown. He reined in the animal with a vigorous 
hand, and looked back to see what had caused the 
stumble. When he found that it was a wooden peg, 
sunk deep in the very middle of the road, he lost his 
temper, and remarked that as men and horses were 
constantly going over the ground, it might lead to an 
accident perhaps fatal. He demanded an explanation, 
and was told that this peg was the remnant of a small 
fence that had been placed round the site on which 
a Tree of Liberty had once flourished. The tree did not 
live long, owing, no doubt, to the poverty of the soil, 
and the municipality were obliged to remove the dead 
wood ; but not wishing to lay themselves open to a 
charge of " anti-patriotism," they were careful to en- 
close the spot from which the stump had been removed, 
in order that the higher authorities might be satisfied 


that the tree had not fallen a victim to popular vengeance. 
These particulars are vouched for by an official report 
drawn up on December gth, 1795, in which it appears 
that three inspectors of forestry (requisitioned by the 
Boulogne municipality), aided by two municipal officers, 
solemnly stated that " the tree of liberty which fell the 
night before last, died its natural death." 

To make themselves quite secure (for at that time 
it would have been dangerous to leave room for any 
suspicion of ill-will on their part), the town councillors 
deposited the old tree trunk in some municipal store- 
house, " so that it might be produced if necessary," 
and the little fence was put round the place it 
once occupied. 

The report of December, 1795, adds : " The tree, 
which is now absolutely dead, and rotten at the trunk 
as well as in the branches, was once a lime tree." What 
was the point of making this apparently futile state- 
ment, and why specify the nature of the tree poplar, 
beech, or oak ? 

It was because at that period an amusing anecdote 
was being told all over France. 

It appears that an official delegate had been ap- 
pointed to inaugurate a certain Festival of Liberty 
by performing the usual ceremonial, and by delivering 
a speech in the redundant and bombastic style so much 
in vogue among the orators of the period. The delegate, 
who for want of any real gifts had let his fancy run 
riot, did his very utmost to reach the summit of eloquence, 
and wishing to close his discourse with a peroration 
worthy of the occasion, he exclaimed : " Citizen friends, 
we must not think of ourselves only. We must think 
of the future, and we must sow for the future generations. 
To-day we are planting a tree, but our grandchildren 
will eat of its fruits." Now the tree was an oak ! The 


story and the orator's speech spread all over the country, 
and therefore when any municipality was anxious to 
plant a Tree of Liberty in the town, the councillors 
took good care to choose a tree which did not lend 
itself to such an equivocal interpretation. Thus the 
particular mention of the Boulogne lime tree in the 
document I quoted above was prompted by a desire 
on the part of the authorities to give no opportunity 
for irreverent jests. 

Needless to say, the First Consul ordered that the 
unlucky remnants of the Tree of Liberty should be 
instantly removed. 

Napoleon was no sooner invested with the supreme 
power than he at once resolved to hasten the execution 
of his plans for the invasion of England. For this pur- 
pose he lost no time in coming to Boulogne, and an 
official visit was accordingly fixed for July igth, 1804. 

The town made preparations for a magnificent re- 
ception of the new Emperor. The streets were hung 
with flags and banners, displaying allegorical emblems ; 
all the houses were decked with draperies, flowers, and 
tapestry. The municipality had erected three arches 
decorated with trophies of war, intended to represent 
the Bridge of Lodi. On the top of the principal arch 
they stationed some musicians and young girls, who were 
to throw flowers to the Emperor as he passed. There 
were twelve other arches, at a distance of 60 metres 
from each other, all along the Rue de Brecquerecque, 
which then took the name of Rue Imperiale. The name 
of one of Napoleon's victories was inscribed on each of 
the arches : 

For Italy. 

Montenotte. Arcole. 
Mondovi. Cremone. 

Lodi. Marengo. 

For Egypt. 

Alexandria. Jaffa. 

The Pyramids. Mount Thabor. 

Cairo. Aboukir. 


A little farther on, appeared a portico intended to 
represent the entrance to a temple dedicated to Immor- 
tality. The Rue de 1'Ecu, then called Rue Napoleon, 
was also decorated with arches, shrubs, and garlands 
intertwined across the street. Lastly, on the quay 
facing the Custom House, they had erected an obelisk 
surmounted with a crown, and bearing the following 
inscription on each of the sides of the pedestal : 





Thousands of flags were flying from the masts, tops and 
yards of the numerous ships, the whole length of the 
quays, and the tricolour waved above the town, from 
the Right and Left Camps on the summit of the cliffs. 

The Emperor drove through the suburb of Brecque- 
recque amid the acclamations of a dense multitude ; 
and from St. Leonard, till he reached the foot of the 
cliffs, he passed between a double line of soldiers and 
sailors who received him with vigorous shouts of " Vive 
rEmpereur / " 

A salute of 900 rounds was fired from the forts and 
from the warships moored in line. 

Without wasting a minute, the Emperor rode along 
the beach with the Prince de Neufchatel, Prince Eugene, 
the Ministers of War and of the Navy, Marshal Soult, 

* The port of Boulogne was the estuary of the Liane. (Note of trans- 

t "NAPOLEON ler," 

" Les deux mondes te demandent la liberte des mers. 
Du ruisseau de la Liane partiront les Foudres vengereases." 


Admiral Bruix, and a staff of generals. He asked for 
a boat, and went to inspect the Forts de PHeurt, du 
Musoir, de 1'Expedition (wooden fort), and La Creche ; 
and ordered the guns of each fort to be fired, that he 
might test the range for himself. Then he went into 
the offing, and ordered the fleet to perform various 
evolutions in sight of the English. 

The Imperial standard immediately became a target 
for the guns of the enemy's squadron, the shot rained 
round the Emperor, who nevertheless continued his in- 
spection with the greatest coolness. As he was landing 
at Fort la Creche, a shower of grape fell quite near him. 
When he came ashore he mounted his horse, and galloped 
up the hill till he reached his pavilion. 

The next morning, at seven o'clock, he was already 
in the roadstead, directing the manoeuvres of the fleet. 
The English division sailed nearer, and seemed disposed 
to attack the line. Several of the French warships 
tried to engage in action ; but the enemy, who had not 
been very successful so far in engagements of this nature, 
decided to return to their stations. 

At midday the Emperor returned to the Tour d'Odre, 
and worked till four o'clock ; then he visited in succession 
the arsenal, the artillery positions, and the various works 
that were in progress in the harbour, overlooking no 
detail in connection with them. Nothing escaped him ; 
his ceaseless activity seemed to keep everyone at attention. 

On the 2 ist there was a violent storm, of which I 
shall speak more fully in the chapter relating to Admiral 
Bruix. On the 22nd Napoleon was occupied all day 
in the transaction of business. 

On the 23rd the Emperor spent most of his time 
following the field practice in the First Division camp ; 
on the 24th he held a review on the Plateau d'Odre, 
which was followed by a reception at his pavilion ; 


it was attended by M. de la Chaise, prefect of the Pas-de- 
Calais, and Mgr. de la Tour d'Auvergne, Bishop of Arras, 
who were admitted to pay their homage to the Emperor. 

On the following days the Emperor reviewed the 
other divisions of the camp and those of the flotilla ; 
he usually started the exercises at six o'clock in the 
morning, and did not cease till towards five or six o'clock 
in the evening. 

He liked being among the soldiers, and always 
listened kindly to any of their requests ; he would ask 
them what battles they had fought in, and make in- 
quiries concerning their years of service. 

On August 6th he left Boulogne, inspected the 
coast between Etaples and Dunkirk, and the camps 
at Montreuil and St. Omer. 

The longest stay that Napoleon made at the Boulogne 
camp was from August 3rd to September 2nd, 1805. 
It would be easy to devote a whole volume to describing 
the innumerable and minute inspections made by this 
indefatigable organiser. For instance : On one day 
he spent twelve hours consecutively in reviewing 112,000 
infantry from all the camps, drawn up in echelons, 
covering a distance of four leagues, from Alprech Point 
to Cape Gris-Nez. On another day he reviewed the 
flotilla, boat by boat ; and on the following days he 
reviewed the soldiers in detail, division by division. 
He presided over a Grand Council at General Berthier's 
(Minister of War), at Hesdin 1'Abbe. He ordered a 
general rehearsal of the embarking of all the troops on 
the boats of the flotilla the operation took two hours. 
And Napoleon displayed this unremitting activity up 
to the very time when cruel disappointments and new 
complications on the Continent forced him to turn aside 
from his projected plans, to carry his victorious arms 



A Visit to the Loppes The Royalist Wimillois Cure Patenaille 
The Wimereux Spy An Original Expedient. 

WHEN the Grand Army was encamped at Boulogne, 
the headquarters were at Pont de Briques or at the 
Tour d'Odre ; but there were other staff centres as well. 
The first division was encamped at Wicardenne, under 
the command of St. Hilaire ; the second was at Outreau, 
with General Vandamme ; the third at Amble teuse, 
under General le Grand ; and the fourth, encamped at 
Wimereux, had its headquarters at Wimille.* 

The camp at Wimereux required special attention ; 
first, because the depression in the coast at that part 
made it a favourable point for possible attack on the 
part of the enemy ; secondly, because the coast formed 
a natural cove, in which a portion of the fleet was able 
to shelter. The Emperor therefore one day determined 
to go and visit the officers at headquarters at Wimille, 
in order to ascertain what measures had been taken 
to provide against all eventualities. 

After conferring in the little town with Suchet, 
general in command of the Fourth Division, Napoleon 
was returning to Boulogne by La Poterie, when he 
suddenly remembered that he had omitted to give an 

* Suchet, General of the Division ; Compans and Walhubert, major- 
generals ; Ricard, chief of the staff ; Fruchard, artillery commandant ; 
Gaudin and St. Cyr, majors. 



order of some urgency, concerning the neighbouring 
hillock of La Tresorerie, a position of strategic importance, 
as it commands the high road between Calais and Bou- 
logne, above Wimille. He walked into a house at 
La Poterie to write the note for immediate despatch. 

" Whose house is this, my good people ? " he asked, 
crossing the threshold, for the door was wide open. 

" This house belongs to the Loppes," * the woman 
answered firmly. " And what do you want of them, 
sir (mon officier) ? " 

The woman had recognised the Emperor perfectly ; 
but she was deeply attached to the late monarchy, 
and as she looked upon the new Caesar as an usurper, 
she mischievously pretended not to know who it was 
that was addressing her. 

" Could you give me the necessary things to write 
with ? " said Napoleon with intentional civility, for he 
saw at once that his presence was exciting no particular 

" Now, if you would only ask me for a jug of milk, 
or a dozen eggs, you would have them at once," she 
answered vivaciously, rummaging about among the 
shelves of the large cupboard. " But a sheet of paper ? 
There is no sign of such a thing ; just see for yourself." 
And with deft hands she picked up the sheets, placed 
one over the other, unfolded them, and put them back 
tidily on the shelf. Then she attacked a pile of towels, 
which careful ironing had made as stiff as cardboard 
and as shiny as a mirror ; and emphasizing each syllable 
of her words with a sharp tap of her hand on the board, 
she exclaimed : " All this is the fault of the Revolution. 

* M. Loppe, a farmer at La Poterie, was Mayor of Wimille for forty- 
seven years. He married Rosalie Delahodde, and died in his little domain 
at La Poterie, in 1855, aged seventy-eight. His wife, who was born in 1770* 
came to live at Wimille, when she became a widow, and died, in 1864, 
at the age of ninety-four, 


If it hadn't been for that, you would have had what 
you wanted long ago." 

" I don't quite see the connection." 

" Why, of course. Under the pretext that we were 
not good patriots, according to their notions of patriotism, 
the official procurators came here three times, and 
turned everything topsy-turvy in our house, from cellar 
to garret : staving in old barrels, ripping up bundles 
of straw, emptying chests, drawers, and cupboards, 
turning even our very pockets inside out, in hopes of 
finding some sort of scribbling, I suppose, which would 
give them an excuse to treat us as suspects. Well, as 
I didn't know whether it might not occur a fourth time, 
I have hardly taken the trouble to put things straight ; 
and then, too, for months and months one was asking 
oneself : ' Is it my father, or my brother, who will be 
denounced next, and packed off to that committee of 
assassins at Arras ? You can understand that I had 
other things to do than to think about providing myself 
with good writing paper." 

Just as she was folding some handkerchiefs during 
her talk, two sheets of paper slipped out and fluttered 
to the ground close to where Napoleon was sitting. 
He picked them up instantly, exclaiming : " Ah ! that 
is what we are looking for." And seeing that one of 
the sheets was clean, he placed it in front of him on the 
table, and handed the other to Mme. Loppe, remarking 
that the paper was printed. As she took it she made 
a movement which did not escape her visitor's notice. 

As soon as the Emperor had written and signed his 
letter, he found he had nothing to close it with. He 
folded it twice, and asked his hostess to sew it down 
with a piece of thread, tying it himself afterwards with 
a double knot. At that moment he caught sight of a 
yellow wax taper, fastened to the wall near the por- 


trait of a young man ; it had a piece of braid round it 
forming a ring. He rose, and deliberately took down 
the taper. " I think we shall be able to seal with this, 
for want of something better." 

But, quick as a dart, she seized the taper, and drew 
it hastily away from the Emperor. " No ! " she ex- 
claimed, reverently placing it in its former position. 
" No one must touch that. It is the last taper that 
burned at the bedside of one of our young relations, 
before he was taken to the cemetery. The poor boy was 
taken home, mortally wounded by a bullet. As for 
the stripe, he earned it fighting as a good Frenchman 
should do. You see, it is a precious relic for us 

Then Napoleon looked reverently at the taper to 
which these memories were attached, and, assuming 
that fascinating manner of which he was such a con- 
summate master, said, gravely : 

" The order contained in this letter is given in the 
interest of France. Had I made use of that wax, which 
is a memorial to your family of a touching and glorious 
action, I should not, believe me, have slighted the 
memory of the brave man for whom you mourn, and 
whom I now salute in your presence." And well Napoleon 
knew how to use expressions of real eloquence, all the 
more impressive because there was nothing conventional 
in them ; and they were uttered spontaneously with 
a conviction which sincerity alone can inspire. 

No one could resist this influence ; it moved, and 
touched, and captivated even the least susceptible. 

Having delivered his order to an officer for imme- 
diate transmission, the Emperor, who was interested 
in what he had already heard, determined to take advan- 
tage of the situation by making inquiries concerning 
the popular feeling in the district. This shrewd woman, 


no doubt, would be able to throw a clear light on the 
subject. Napoleon therefore began : " Our conversation 
just now appeared to stir up very deep feelings 
in you. What occurred, then, in your quiet little 
Wimille ? " 

Madame Loppe, encouraged by this friendly in- 
vitation to converse, was only too ready to say everything 
she had on her mind. She told the Emperor that the 
inhabitants of Wimille enjoyed the reputation, in the 
district, of being hard workers, very . religious, peace- 
loving, and so quiet that, up to that time, there had 
not been a single public ball in the commune.* 

" And you are all irreconcilable Royalists ? " asked 
the Emperor. 

" Irreconcilable ? Oh ! we wish no harm to anyone. 
We even forgave some bandits who denounced us to 
the Arras Committee, presided over by Lebon a strange 
name, isn't it, for an assassin ? Oh, the" monster a 
hundred times over ! It is abominable, all the same, 
the amount of misery that the Revolution caused ! " 

Continuing her talk, she explained that ever since 
1782, Wimille had had the same worthy man, Abbe 
Cossart, for a mayor, cure, and representative at the 
National Assembly ; and that in 1790 Mgr. Asseline, 
Bishop of Boulogne, had addressed a pastoral letter 
to him, as well as to the rest of his clergy. 

" But, indeed," she added, " read this paper which 
you picked up a moment ago ; I have a notion that it 
will tell you much more than any amount of talk would 
do from an ignorant woman like myself." And so 
saying, she handed the following letter to the Emperor, 
of which the author has seen a copy among the archives 
of the parish, for the cure had his letter of protestation 
printed in order to distribute it among his parishioners. 

* The first village ball was given in Wimille after the Revolution of 1830. 


" Reply of the Cure, Mayor of Wimille, to M. Blanquart 
de la Barriere, Procurator Syndic of the district of 


" I have received, in my capacity of mayor of 
the parish, your two letters, dated 2nd December, in 
which you instruct the municipality to notify to me, 
the other in which you notify to me yourself, on behalf 
of the directory of the district, that I am forbidden to 
read in the Church the pastoral instructions of Mon- 
seigneur ' ci-devant ' Bishop of Boulogne, under penalty 
of being specially prosecuted ; and also that I am to 
give the municipality an acknowledgment for these 

" I send this acknowledgment to you, and I hereby 
consent not to read in the Church the above-named 
instructions, not from any fear of the special prosecution 
with which you threaten me despotically in your letters, 
but from a desire for peace, from patriotic zeal, from 
love of the public weal ; seeing also that my superior, 
the Bishop of Boulogne, has not directed me to give 
this reading, and that it is not absolutely necessary 
to the religious instruction of my parishioners, who are 
most of them perfectly well acquainted with the articles 
of their faith. Your prohibition is impolitic, uncon- 
stitutional, illegal, and very much wanting in respect 
towards a prelate whose wisdom, moderation, and kind- 
ness have won him the admiration of the whole of France, 
and who is described as ' a marvel of the new Constitu- 
tion.' I do my best to excuse you in the eyes of my 
parishioners by telling them that, most assuredly, you 
had no time for reflection before you dictated your 
letter. Their reply is that ' they cannot forgive you 
for pursuing with so much rigour the writings of a bishop 


so truly apostolic, when at the same time you send them 
prospectuses of incendiary works, in packages sealed 
by your orders and forwarded to the municipalities. 
" I have the honour to be, monsieur, 

" Your very humble and obedient servant, 

" (Cure-Mayor of Wimille, Assistant- 
deputy at the National Assembly)" 

When Madame Loppe took the paper from the 
Emperor she added : 

" Fortunately, there is now no need to fear a re- 
currence of the frightful days that I have been through, 
alas ! " 

This expression, " there is now no need to fear," 
made a deep impression on the Emperor. Without 
being aware of it, probably, she had touched a most sensi- 
tive chord, and with these few simple words she secured 
Napoleon's sympathy, to which her straightforwardness, 
her dignity, and independence had given her a claim. 

It is incumbent en us to try to realise what was 
Napoleon's state of mind at this period. 

After the i8th Brumaire, Bonaparte had announced : 
" The Revolution is over." In 1802, at the time of 
the Peace of Amiens, France flattered herself with the 
hope that the wars of the Revolution were over ; 
the extension of her territory on the Continent had 
been sanctioned ; England had given back the French 
colonies, and had ceased to cause complications and 
trouble by restoring Malta to the Knights of St. John 
and the Cape to the Dutch ; lastly, the English aris- 
tocracy appeared to have laid aside their traditional 
animosity. The First Consul himself had hoped, at 
that time, for a permanent peace. " At Amiens," he 
afterwards said, " I believed in truth that the fate of 


France and of Europe, as well as my own, were fixed. 
The wars once over, I meant to give myself up entirely 
to the affairs of France, and I believe I should have 
worked wonders." * 

Would that he had kept to this determination ! 

But when the rupture of the Peace of Amiens occurred 
(after the English Government had ordered the seizure 
of 1,200 French and Dutch ships without declaring war), 
Bonaparte realised that this renewal of hostilities would 
upset the whole political system which had been con- 
structed so laboriously, and at so great a price. He 
therefore wrote to his Minister : " England compels us 
to conquer the world ! " 

At any rate, we can understand that Napoleon, 
foreseeing that he would inevitably be involved in a 
whole series of warlike enterprises, was glad to learn, 
from the mouth even of a woman, that the country 
people, royalists and others, had faith in his power to 
avert a renewal of internal revolutions. 

Instead of taking his departure, therefore, he called 
a gunner who happened to be passing in front of the 
Loppes' house, and ordered him to go to headquarters 
and to address himself to a lieutenant, whom he men- 
tioned by name (we know how fond Napoleon was of 
proving that he knew even the minor officers personally), 
and to say that if any of them had a communication 
to make to the Emperor, they would find him for the 
moment at La Poterie. 

" And what was the effect of the Cure-Mayor's 
letter in the district, Madame Loppe ? " he went on. 

" As soon as the Procurator had read it, he flew into 
a passion, and complained to the Revolutionary Com- 
mittee. So then the parishioners decided that Mon- 
sieur le Cure should leave Wimille secretly (because 

* J'aurais enfante des prodiges. 


you know what a denunciation meant in those days), 
and join his Bishop in Germany. He was provided 
with a coarse suit of peasant's clothes and a great plough- 
horse, to the tail of which they tied a foal. Thanks to 
this ruse, he was able to reach the frontier." 

" And then ? " 

" Then a Cordelier from Boulogne, named Patenaille,* 
was sent to our parish as constitutional priest. But 
no one would have anything to say to him ; he was 
shunned as though he were a leper. Priests who had 
not taken the oath to the Constitution used to come to 
our houses at night to baptise the children and ad- 
minister Extreme Unction to the dying ; Monsieur 1'Abbe 
Blin, the former curate of Monsieur Cossart, came back 
to Wimille, and remained in hiding in the neighbour- 
hood. One day, just as he had finished celebrating 
Mass at the Chateau de Lozembrune, on the banks of 
the Wimereux, he was captured and taken to Arras, 
where he was detained till liberty of worship was re- 
stored in France. All this while the intruder Patenaille 
was left all to himself in church ; and when he insisted 
that the coffins should be carried up to the altar, only 
the bearers came in with the corpse the whole family 
remained outside, f He sent round the men employed 
in the service of the church to visit his so-called parish- 
ioners, but all to no purpose. No one paid any more 
attention to his civilities than they did to his threats. 
As you can imagine, it was not very long before Wimille 

* The Father Guardian of the Cordeliers, Patenaille, was appointed to 
the living of Wimille by the Bishop " intruder " Porion. 

t In a Memoir written by Achille Delahodde on the Wimille Church there 
are proofs that Cure Patenaille himself stated at the foot of several death 
certificates that the family had abstained from entering the Church. There 
is nothing surprising in this, as we see, for instance, in the Memoirs of d'Auri- 
beau that on the day that Father Pbiree, a " sworn " preacher, took possession 
of the large parish of St. Sulpice in Paris, he only found five or six worshippers 
in the church, in spite of the pressing invitations to attend that had been sent 
round in the district. 


was denounced to the Boulogne Council as harbouring 
numerous fanatic ' suspects.' .... Twenty-six of the 
most respectable and worthy old men in the place were 
arrested and taken to prison, at Boulogne. The oldest 
of them all, M. Delahodde de Grisendalle, was dragged 
through the streets on a tumbril, and exposed to 
the insults of an odious mob, who pelted him with filth 
from the gutter." 

The archives of the Pas-de-Calais, kept at Arras, 
confirm the foregoing account concerning Cure Patenaille 
in the following terms : 

" On the 28th Brumaire, Year II., Citizen Claude 
Patenaille, ci-devant monk of the Order of the Cordeliers 
and priest of the Catholic faith in Boulogne, was intro- 
duced at a meeting of the departmental council * at 
Boulogne. He laid on the table all the titles he had 
received from various ecclesiastical orders, and also the 
document proving his appointment to the living at 
Wimille, by Bishop Porion, and he declares ' that he 
willingly sacrifices these title-deeds to the Nation, and 
is prepared to see them burnt in the presence of the 
popular Society ; and further, that he gives up the 
stipend he has been receiving from the Nation in his 
capacity of priest of the Catholic religion.' .... The 
Assembly welcomed this declaration, and the president 
gave the citizen cure a fraternal embrace." 

The preceding document is instructive, inasmuch 
as it reveals the character and import of the " Civil 
Constitution of the Clergy," which many consider was 
brought in merely as a police measure, or as a political 
safeguard devoid of all anti-religious significance. 

And no doubt the formula of the civic oath which 
was imposed by the decree seemed acceptable enough 
at first. It ran thus : 

* Conseil General. 


" I swear carefully to watch over the congregations 
committed to my charge. I swear to be faithful to 
the Nation, to the law, and to the King. I swear to 
uphold the French Constitution, with all my might, and 
especially those decrees relating to the Civil Constitution 
of the Clergy." 

As the Assembly had repeatedly declared that it 
had no intention of interfering with the spiritual side 
of the question, we can understand how it was that 
on the very first day of the adoption of the measure, 
fifty priests took the oath, and in doing so were per- 
suaded that their action was purely patriotic and 
meritorious. ^ 

But when it became customary later on to exact of 
priests, in proof of their adherence to the new Consti- 
tution, not only the civic oath, but other acts far more 
serious such as, for instance, the burning, or tearing 
up, of ecclesiastical documents which established their 
claim to priesthood on the late canonical authority 
then many of them retracted their former acquiescence. 
Besides, in the eyes of the congregation the civic oath 
appeared an apostasy, and as such caused scandal, 
although in his secret conscience the constitutional 
priest had no deliberate intention of being " schismatic," 
as it was termed in Picardy and elsewhere. 

However, Patenaille was not really a bad man, for 
very soon he grew ashamed of his weakness ; and giving 
up the Church for want of a congregation he became 
a clerk in one of the bureaux of the municipality. While 
earning a precarious livelihood, he had time to reflect 
and to repent of the scandal he had caused ; so much 
so, that after the signing of the Concordat, he regained 
the favour of the episcopal authorities and became Dean 
of Desvres, where his ministry was above all reproach. 

In 1802, the former curate of 1'Abbe Cossart, 


M. Blin, who had devoted himself to his parishioners 
during the revolutionary ferment, at the risk of his 
own life, was appointed Cure of Wimille. 

As Napoleon was about to leave the house of Madame 
Loppe to return to Boulogne, there were sounds of 
great commotion outside, and fierce shouts of " Drown 
him ! Hang him ! Death to the traitor ! " 

The Emperor at once went to the door and saw a 
mob of peasants, soldiers, and sailors vociferating round 
an individual, and shaking the life out of him. The 
man was panting and bathed in perspiration, and 
seemed only too well aware that a word or movement 
on his part might provoke a fatal blow from one of his 

" Be quiet, all of you, and explain ! " exclaimed 
Napoleon imperiously, moving towards the howling 
pack. Then, addressing one of the two Chasseurs 
d'Hautpoul who were escorting the prisoner : "I wish 
to hear all about this man instantly." 

The Chasseur, somewhat disconcerted, related the 
following : 

" My comrade and I, we were patrolling the district, 
when we distinctly saw an individual, concealed behind 
a stone wall and crouching on his heels, spying with a 
glass various points in succession. We watched him 
very carefully, and found that it was not the beach 
that he was spying so attentively, but the new defence 
works at the entrance of Wimereux harbour, right and 
left of the Channel. We concealed ourselves as best 
we could behind a rise in the ground, and were able 
to follow his strange movements. Shortly afterwards 
he stood up and walked towards the headquarters at 
Wimille, repeating this manoeuvre twice, and hiding 
himself, as he went, behind a trench or a heap of stones, 
and every now and then crouching down as though he 


were writing on his knees. All our doubts vanished ; 
this was an English spy, studying our positions and 
the military works. And we said to each other, I and 
my comrade, that we must capture him at all costs, 
dead or alive. We first began by enlisting the services 
of a few peasants who happened to be working near 
there, and organised, under their directions, a sort 
of circular battue so as to completely surround him 
between ourselves and the river, which cut off his re- 
treat towards the north. As soon as he realised that he 
was discovered, he crawled along the ground behind 
a hedge to try and escape us ; but our measures had 
been properly taken, and by closing in upon him we 
very soon had him at our mercy. We aimed at him, 
and called out to him not to attempt to move, or we 
should shoot him dead. I was very pleased at our 
capture, though I was asking myself how we were to 
get any information out of him, as neither my comrade 
nor myself, nor any of the peasants, could speak a word 
of English ; and so we were much relieved when we 
heard our man say, in perfect French and without the 
slightest accent : ' Well, what is the matter ? Can't 
a man gather camomile in the fields nowadays without 
running a risk of being shot ? ' 

" ' You go and tell that to others,' replied my com- 
rade, seizing him by the collar. ' You are nothing more 
than an infamous spy, and we have already caught 
hold of twenty others of your sort between Etaples 
and Gris-Nez.' 

" 'I, an Englishman ! Why, I hate them more than 
you do. Here, let me go ! Napoleon's soldiers have 
better things to do than to track out poor devils like 
myself, who have nothing to be ashamed of.' . . . 

" ' What do you say ? ' I said to my comrade. ' Shall 
we let him go ? ' And, in truth, I felt rather ashamed 


of our mistake, and was quite prepared to release him, 
when the veteran here cried out, ' Mille tonnerres ! 
Can't you see that he is humbugging us ? What about 
the spy-glass ? Isn't that enough to give him away ? 
Here, search him, and we will soon find him out. Ah, 
my good man, in spite of your fine talk I think they will 
soon settle you, with half a dozen bullets to put a little 
lead in your head.' 

" ' Here, I have had enough of this. What is all 
this about a telescope ? Search me at once, and you 
will soon see whether I am lying.' He kept on repeating 
this with furious persistency. We searched him, but 
found nothing suspicious about him a pipe, a purse 
containing nothing but French coins, a bundle of thick 
string, and some crusts of dry bread. 

" ' Now are you satisfied that I am neither an English- 
man nor a spy ? ' he cried out indignantly. 

" We were beginning to think that we really had 
made a mistake, and were just on the point of letting 
him off, when that woman there, who had joined the 
little crowd that was beginning to collect, cried out : 

" ' Don't let him go ! I recognise him I am sure 
he is a spy.' " 

The peasant woman was pushed forward in front 
of the Emperor, and on his inviting her to speak, she 
told the following story : 

" I am certain I met this man a few days ago, in 
the neighbourhood of Portel, where I went with my 
big boy to gather mussels. On that day he was dressed 
like a peasant, and carried a big hamper on his back ; 
he was staggering along the road as though his load were 
very heavy. But as soon as he saw us coming along, 
he dropped his burden which turned out to be an 
empty basket slipped between the big rocks at the 
foot of the cliff, and finally disappeared. This seemed 


to us so strange that, on meeting some soldiers a little 
further on, coming from Outreau 

"Of Vandamme's Division!" interrupted the Em- 

" We told them what we had seen. They imme- 
diately set themselves in pursuit of the stranger, who 
must have escaped. On another occasion I met the 
same man quite near here, at the Chapel of Jesus Flagelle, 
where he was pretending to pray. That day he was 
dressed as a fine gentleman, and I noticed that he 
was unfolding a kind of map. As soon as he saw me, he 
hastened to put it away in his pocket, and made off 
through the fields ; but I recognised him perfectly. 
That's the fellow ; there is no doubt about it ! " And 
she added, in the typical language of the district : " That 
fellow,, my boys, you may all of you kill him like a mad 
dog ; I'd buy the rope myself to hang him with ! " 

" Scoundrel ! bandit ! " shouted the peasants, shaking 
their fists at the wretched man. " Who knows but 
what he is the man who spiked the howitzer below the 
signals ? " said one. " As for me," said another, " I 
bet it was he who was staring at the wooden bridge 
yesterday, meaning to set fire to it, as someone has 
tried to do several times already." And they were all 
making the most varied suggestions and accusations, 
when a child was seen running up, quite out of breath, 
and brandishing the incriminating spy-glass, which she 
had found near a blackberry hedge, where the spy 
had no doubt thrown it as soon as he realised that he 
was being closely watched. It was impossible to doubt 
any longer, and before the Emperor could stop them, 
the peasants made a rush at the man. The garment he 
still retained was torn by the rough hands that tried 
to clutch at him. Then, to the astonishment of all, 
they discovered, between the lining and the material 


of his waistcoat, a white leather skin, on which was a 
topographical map. 

" All right ; the game is up," muttered the English- 
man with the greatest unconcern. " There's twenty 
guineas gone." 

Napoleon bade them be silent with an impatient 
gesture, and said sharply : " Give me the map." 

He examined it carefully, smoothing it out in 
order to see all the marks and signs inscribed on it. 
" Everything is down on it," he murmured, trembling 
with rage. " Everything even the new battery, which 
is scarcely finished ; even my huts at the Tour d'Odre. 
The plan is so exact, that I shall keep it. Take the 
prisoner to General Suchet," he added aloud. 

Twenty minutes later, the Emperor reached his 
quarters, and addressed one of the officers. " Take a 
sheet of paper and write : 

" ' Arrest any suspicious-looking individual seen on the 
roads, in the fields, and especially along the coast. He must 
be carefully searched, and taken to the nearest headquarters, 
Calais, Ambleteuse, Outreau, Wicardenne, Tour d'Odre, or 
Pont-de-Briques, and brought before the general in com- 
mand, or in default of him the major-general, who will send 
me a detailed report by special express. At night the posts 
must be doubled. By order of the Emperor.' ' 

In a few minutes ten horsemen were riding at full 
speed in all directions to transmit the orders. 



The Beautiful English Spy An Interview at the Pavilion 
The English Prisoners The Intelligence Department : Ruses 
and Methods The Cross of the Legion of Honour. 

IN spite of all the precautions taken, English spies were 
constantly slipping into Boulogne. They were given 
no quarter when they were discovered, and yet some 
of them were sufficiently daring to brave the police 
and attend the theatrical performances. On one occa- 
sion two small boats, covered with tarred canvas, were 
found on the beach. They had no doubt been used 
by some of these spies. 

In June, 1804, eight well-dressed Englishmen were 
arrested, and on being searched it was discovered that 
they had certain sulphur appliances concealed about 
their garments, for the purpose of setting fire to the 
shipping. They were shot within an hour. 

On another occasion a schoolmaster, secret agent 
of Lord Melville and Lord Keith, was found making 
telegraphic signals with his arms from the top of the 
cliff and close to the Right Camp. He was instantly 
arrested, and protested his innocence ; but on his papers 
being searched, it was found that he had been in corre- 
spondence with the English. He was court-mar tialled, 
and shot the next day. 

The feminine element, of course, was not neglected 



in the system of espionage by which Bonaparte was 

One day, a very beautiful young woman presented 
herself at the Chateau de Pont-de-Briques, and asked 
to be admitted, as she had been sent on a very important 

She was a fascinating Englishwoman, about twenty- 
five years old, of engaging manners and well-bred assur- 
ance ; she had large blue eyes, a small red mouth, a 
milk-white and pink complexion, and golden hair. 
Altogether, she was personally charming and alluring, 
such as the daughters of Great Britain alone can be 
as Britons aver, when they wish to excite the jealousy 
of their European rivals. Her disposition seemed to 
be a delightful blending of gaiety and sentiment, and 
none but an ill-bred man could have been guilty of 
impertinence towards so peerless a creature. 

The sequel to the story will explain the meaning of 
the last remark ; and before condemning the alleged 
impertinence, it is necessary to know the anecdote in 
all its details. 

The elegance and air of refinement which distin- 
guished the lady facilitated her entrance to the chateau ; 
but as the name she gave was not known, the Emperor 
sent word that he could not grant an interview without 
first knowing the object of her visit. Whereupon the 
lady mentioned the name of some ambassador to whom, 
she said, she was related, and persisted in asking to be 
received, declaring that she could confide her business 
to no one but the Emperor. 

The message was taken to the Emperor, who was 
also told that the fair stranger spoke with a slight British 
accent, which she vainly tried to conceal. 

After a moment's hesitation, Napoleon said : ' Tell 
her that I will see her to-morrow at the Tour d'Odre, 


but not here this evening." Then, turning to the officer 
who had seen the visitor : " What do you think of her ? " 

" Sire, she looks almost like a Princess." 

" Or even like an adventuress eh ? Remember 
this, young man ; there is a Corsican proverb which says, 
' A very handsome messenger may bear an ugly message.' 
Bear that in mind for the future." 

Meanwhile, inquiries had been made concerning her, 
in Boulogne, where she was known to be staying. A 
summary report drawn up, as a result of these inquiries, 
described her as a probable spy, whom it was all the more 
necessary to mistrust as her arrival had been mysterious, 
and the poverty of her lodgings contrasted strangely 
'with the elegance of her attire ; also, some unknown 
and suspicious-looking individuals had called on the 
fair traveller, who, in any case, was unaccompanied by 
any members of her family who might have allayed 
suspicion. The report added that it would be more 
prudent to deny her access to the Emperor. As the 
officers around the Emperor were urging this point, he 
laughed and exclaimed : 

" There is -no doubt about it ! A price has been 
set on my head, and I, poor Holophernes, am to fall a 
victim to this new Judith. The Boulogne camp re- 
places the camp of the Assyrians at Bethulia, and my 
head is to be taken from the Tour d'Odre to the Tower 
of London, and exhibited in a glass case in the New 
Babylon ! Only, Nebuchadnezzar's general had allowed 
himself to be inebriated by Manasseh's widow." 

Among the many subjects that Napoleon had studied, 
history had always been the one which particularly 
attracted him ; and he constantly made pertinent al- 
lusions to historical facts in his writings and conversation. 
It has even been said that he had had but little other 
schooling than that of history ; and the more we analyse 


the psychology of Napoleon, the more we realise the 
justice of this remark. 

The Emperor went on : 

" How the English would laugh if they imagined 
that I was afraid of a girl ! I will see her." 

The following day, at the appointed hour, the 
petitioner presented herself at the pavilion. When ad- 
mitted to the Emperor's presence, she found him writing 
at his table. She was moving forward towards his 
armchair when, without interrupting his occupation or 
even laying down his pen, he stopped her with a motion 
of his left hand. 

" Pray sit down, madame. I am listening 

" Mademoiselle," she hastily corrected, in offended 

" Very well. I am listening." 

" Sire, it is unnecessary for me to express my admir- 
ation for 

" Quite unnecessary, as you say," he interrupted, 
maintaining a distinctly negative attitude. 

" You must first hear who I am," she added, moving 
her chair noisily, to attract his attention. 

" I am waiting for you to inform me on that point." 

She then arose, and coming nearer the table, 
said, softly : 

" I don't know whether your Majesty has ever seen 
me before 

" Pray remain seated, mademoiselle," and without 
so much as looking in her direction he pointed to the 
seat she had just vacated. 

At these words she drew herself up resolutely, and 
restraining herself with difficulty, said : 

" Sire, I am surprised at your strange reception of 
me, since you granted me an interview, and consented 
to listen " 


" I am listening ; and am still awaiting your ex- 

The Emperor's sarcastic speech was also probably 
accentuated by a certain nervous movement familiar 
to him, and which consisted, as has been recorded by 
his valet, in the rapid and frequent raising of his right 
shoulder ; those who did not know him often interpreted 
this as a sign of disapproval or annoyance. 

And then a strange duel began between the vanity 
of a coquette, exasperated to find that her charms were 
not only powerless, but totally ignored, and the deter- 
mination of a great man, who loved to draw a distinction 
between himself and the ordinary run of mankind, 
and who persisted all the more in his indifference as 
his attractive visitor tried to force herself upon his 

It was this very intention, on her part, instantly 
perceived, which prolonged the scene, and turned it 
into a kind of wager between them. But it was idle 
to suppose that Napoleon, thus challenged, would ever 
give in. 

It must be added that the Emperor, wishing to prove 
to his entourage that he was perfectly able to retain 
his sang-froid in every assault, whatever its nature, had 
taken care to leave open the door leading to the rotunda, 
so that the officers present could hear all that was said, and 
were able to follow the humorous scene that was taking 
place in the " Big Box," as they familiarly termed the 
Imperial pavilion. 

" Mademoiselle, I can only give you one minute 
more," observed the Emperor, who was beginning to 
ask himself whether the scene would terminate in an 
outburst ; "I am going out riding immediately." 

Suddenly she sprang up from her chair, and slipping 
in the narrow space between the table and window, 


she came and stood on the other side of the desk, so as 
to face the Emperor. 

Napoleon, no less obstinate than she, and determined 
to play his part to the end, kept his eyes fixed on the 
map ; and gradually raising it, with apparent care- 
lessness, held it so as to make a screen between himself 
and the lady. 

The Emperor's intention was so evident that the 
visitor realised that her little manoeuvres had but small 
chance of success. But unwilling to admit her defeat, 
she collected herself with admirable adroitness, and 
said : 

" Sire, I was given a letter of introduction, which 
would, no doubt, have disposed you kindly in my favour ; 
but in my hurry I forgot to bring it. Permit me to 
retire, and to-morrow, if you will allow me " 

Napoleon, who was only too pleased to accept this 
surrender, replied : 

" Certainly ; there will always be some one of my 
officers to receive you." Then, calling to his aides-de- 
camp who were in the adjoining room, he added, in tones 
of perfect courtesy : " Will one of you gentlemen escort 
Mademoiselle out ? " 

The lady retired, full of mortification at the thought 
that Napoleon had never looked at her once during the 
whole of this strange scene. 

As for Napoleon, he was manifestly pleased with 
his little victory ; it had not cost one drop of blood, 
but only a few tears from a coquette. 

The number of English prisoners captured at sea 
by the privateers and the fleet, as also along the coast, 
which swarmed with spies, increased so rapidly that it 
became necessary to organise a regular system with 
regard to prisoners. 

Amongst other orders issued to meet the case were 


the regulations of the loth Thermidor, Year XL, which 
I have before me as I write. They were issued by Ber- 
thier, Minister of War, and Dejean, Chief of Administra- 
tion, and established a method of universal supervision. 

Depots were created in many district centres, where 
the prisoners were taken on being captured, and a 
"review " was held on the arrival of any new batch. 

During the first six months the prisoners of war 
had to answer two calls a day at eight o'clock in the 
morning and at four o'clock in the afternoon. During 
the next six months they were subject to three calls 
at six in the morning, at midday, and in the evening. 
It was assumed that the desire to escape increased 
with the length of their detention. 

If a prisoner was absent from call, he was incarcer- 
ated for a period varying from twenty-four hours to 
eight days, and the term was much longer if there was 
insubordination as well. 

The English officers were not subject to the call, 
but were on parole to go no farther than a distance of 
two leagues (Art. VIL). In case of an officer for- 
feiting his parole, the mayor or, in a serious case, the 
Minister of War was to place him under arrest. 

The prisoners of war who had a trade, were allowed 
to exercise their craft by engaging themselves with any 
employers (Art. X.). Private people were authorised 
to retain these men in their houses as workmen, " on 
condition that they produced them on demand." 

They were only allowed to correspond by open letters, 
sent to the Minister of War for transmission to their 
destination. Every ten days the mayors went to visit 
the prisoners, for closer supervision. 

In 1804 there were but very few Frenchmen who 
could speak English, therefore Article 32 provided that 
" any non-commissioned officer prisoner, knowing how 


to speak and write both languages, might be placed 
in charge of the Register, with the pay of 73 centimes 
a day for this office." 

The product of the prisoners' work was remitted 
to the commandant of the depot, to go to the general 
fund for the supplying of their needs. 

The non-commissoned officers and men had one 
ration of bread per day, distributed every four days. 

The prisoners were provided with a blanket and 
straw mattress for every two men, " if there were any 
available, belonging to the Republic " (Art. LI I.). 

Every four months the straw was to be changed, 
at the rate of 15 kilos per mattress. If there were no 
mattresses, each individual was given, once a fortnight, 
5 kilos of straw, supplied by the forage contractor. 

Fuel was paid for out of the general fund, as well 
as the firing required for cooking purposes. 

These regulations were published under the following 
title : 



The following was the form of the orders for 
bedding : 


Name of Town 

English prisoners of war. 

Name of Depot 

Commanded by 

ORDER for bundles of straw of 5 kilos 

each for bedding, for want of a mattress, for 

prisoner of war. 

At Date 

Commandant of the Depot. 


The orders for bread were given in the same form, 
and represented a ration weighing 7^ kilos. 

The prisoners' registers, of which I give a specimen, 
had to indicate the place where the prisoner had been 

Name and surname of 
prisoners, and of their 

Birthplace and age of 

Name of ship or corps to 
which they belonged. 


Wolf (John), son of Peter 
Howard and Jane Barren, 
living at 

Dover 36 years. 
Frigate, La Seine. 

Corresponding . rank 
French Army. 

in Lieutenant. 

Date on which they were 
made prisoners, and name 
of place. 

20th Thermidor, Year XII., 
on board, before Dieppe. 

Where were the prisoners sent ? 

As far as possible from the ports, where it 
would have been easy for them to reach the 
English ships, that were only too ready to give 
them shelter. 

The author has found an old Call Sheet of English 
prisoners who were sent to Nancy (Year XI.) from the 
coasts of the Boulonnais, where it would have been 
imprudent to keep them. 

The principal headings of this Call Sheet are the 
following : 


CALL SHEETS. 4th Military Division. 

To be given by the Com- 
mandant of the Depot to 
the Commissioner of War 
at the time of Inspection. English Prisoner of War. 


Commanded by Citizen Jean Forget, 
Captain of the 75th Semi-brigade of the Line. 

Muster-roll of English prisoners at this depot on ist 
Fructidor, Year XII., at the time of the inspection ordered by 
Citizen Barbier, Commissioner of War. 

In another sheet, called the " Balance of the Review 
of Prisoners," we see that the effective of a single 
detachment, which arrived at Nancy on Qth Fructidor, 
Year XL, was " 116 English prisoners of war," Nancy 
being one of the principal depots for the detention of 
those captured on the waters or along the coast of the 

The many spies and snares by which Napoleon was 
constantly surrounded, made him fully alive to the 
advantage that would accrue to France by organising 
" an intelligence department " a polite and discreet 
phrase, but still sufficiently denoting mere military 

We can learn a good deal by reading, in works of 
foreign authors, the methods employed by commanders 
to enlighten themselves by means of " military in- 

Colonel Klembowsky, general staff officer in the 
Russian army, has written a work full of authenticated 
cases on the subject of these " confidential, " as they 
are courteously termed in the land of the Tsars. 


He writes : " On September 2oth, 1797, Bonaparte 
sent the following order from Penariono to General 
Dumas : ' Send spies to Gorz, Trieste, and Laubach 
to discover the names of the cavalry regiments and 
infantry battalions that are now in those regions. Let 
them also observe whether works are being carried 
on in the citadel of Gorz, and whether it is being armed 
with guns.' ' 

According to Colonel Klembowsky, spies may be 
classed in four categories : the voluntary and com- 
pelled ; the temporary and permanent ; the mobile 
and stationary ; and the single and double. This 
last category requires a little explanation. 

The " double agents " are those who serve both 
parties simultaneously, for the sake of making larger 
profits. They may be very dangerous, inasmuch as they 
are constantly tempted to betray one nation to the 
advantage of her adversary. Besides, the very infamy 
of their calling makes their communications untrust- 
worthy. The only advantage to be derived from the 
employment of " double agents " is to use them to give 
false reports to the enemy. 

As for the Germans, it appears that their favourite 
system is this : to build a factory close to a fort, 
or some other position of strategic importance, and to 
fill it with a large staff of Germans ; then, while keeping 
up a strong competition with our trade in time of peace, 
they explore the country, watch, and take note of the 
defence works along our frontier, and dispose their 
own constructions in such a manner that they may 
instantly be transformed into barracks, reserve stores, 
or temporary fortifications, on the breaking out of 

Military spies receive a very high salary in Germany, 
in conformity with Frederick the Great's advice in his 


" Instructions to the Generals " : " Bear in mind that 
a man who, through you, runs a risk of being hanged, 
deserves a good reward." 

The methods of transmitting intelligence are ocular 
signals and written correspondence, either in cipher or 
conventional writing. 

For instance, a spy may give information by kindling 
a certain number of fires, laid out according to pre- 
concerted arrangement. This expedient is not easy 
to adopt in cases when the enemy is near, as it would 
arouse suspicion. But perhaps in this case the spy could 
utilise houses seen from a long distance, and cause 
lights to appear and disappear from the windows ; 
open and close shutters, all of which signals have a 
meaning for the parties in collusion, and form, some- 
times, a complete code. 

Again, the spy can convey intelligence to the troops 
by, for instance, binding branches together, or breaking 
them off ; by burning patches of grass ; making chalk 
or coal marks on trees and walls ; or he can do as the 
Pyrenees smugglers do, place small stones on rocks, 
trunks of trees, or mounds of earth ; the number of 
stones, and the mode of their arrangement, are as good 
as an alphabet. 

Very often, some written matter which appears in- 
significant to the uninitiated, has a very special mean- 
ing when read in the manner it is meant to be read by 
the person for whom it is intended. 

I must here cite a historical fact which gives a good 
example of the combinations which can be obtained by 
this system. 

In 1560 the Prince de Conde, who had been imprisoned 
for taking part in a plot against the Guises and Catherine 
of Medici, received a strange communication, which 
began thus : 


" Believe me, Prince, prepare to 
face death. Indeed, it would ill become you to 

defend yourself. Those who would 
compass your destruction, are friends 

of the State." 

There was nothing in the straightforward reading of 
this letter to arouse suspicion, but when Conde made 
out the sense of it, according to the instructions of the 
key, which was perfectly simple, it read thus : 

" Believe me, Prince, prepare to 
defend yourself." 

The second line was to be skipped, and the real 
meaning was contained in the above sentence. 

No doubt Napoleon, in common with all other chiefs, 
had made use of these useful and despised auxiliaries, 
the " military informers," from the commencement ; 
but the number of British spies discovered in the Boulon- 
nais was so considerable, that he determined to organise 
a whole system of secret service, from which he after- 
wards reaped considerable advantages. 

In our time, as soon as a new military work or a 
strategic road is begun, the staff is at once informed 
of it, and within a few days the necessary modifications 
or additions appear in the official maps. 

At the time of the First Empire, on the contrary, 
military geography was very inadequate to the needs 
of the army, and the very best officers were in want of 
the technical or local information, which is now common 
to anyone, thanks to the special publications and to 
international communications. 

Ever since the year 1800, Napoleon had made use 
of a certain man Schulmeister, who afterwards played 
an important part, from 1805 to 1809, as appears from 
many reports in the War and the National Archives. 


The author has read some very interesting accounts * 
of this extraordinarily clever man, who was a veritable 
Proteus for his infinite resourcefulness ; he spoke French 
as perfectly as German ; he could alter his physiognomy 
as easily as he changed his name ; and he took the name of 
Burgermeister, or Charles, or M. de Meinau, or Frederick, 
according as it suited his purpose. 

If we read his life, we find him penetrating into 
camps and following army corps, disguised as a sutler 
and selling spirits, sausages, or tobacco. 

And once, when he was on the point of being captured, 
he walked straight into a house and made his way up 
to the very top of the stairs ; there he divested himself 
of his coat, which he flung into the garret, then rapidly 
covering half his face in a soap lather, he quietly went 
downstairs, begging the soldiers who were searching 
for him to be careful not to knock up against him, for 
fear of cutting themselves against the razor he had in 
his hand. And they made room for him to pass. 

On another occasion he donned a general's uniform, 
and exacted military honours from the advanced posts 
whom he went to inspect audaciously. 

The house which he occupied was once surrounded, 
and he was summoned to open the door. In a few 
moments he had transformed his appearance so com- 
pletely, that he could himself admit, with perfect safety, 
the men who had come to seize him. As there was 
nothing in him that corresponded to the description 
which had been given to the agents, they never doubted 
but that he was the servant. 

" Where is your master ? " 

" In the room on the first floor," answered Shul- 
meister, feigning great alarm. " Oh ! don't harm me. 
I am prepared to tell you everything, if you will only 

* " Schulmeister," by Paul Mullet. 


spare me. I am only a poor servant. Wait till my 
master is in bed he is undressing now and then it 
will be quite easy for you to seize him. But for Heaven's 
sake let me get away first, because he swore that if 
he was caught I should die ! " 

And he was given a pass by the very men who had 
orders to bring him back, dead or alive. 

The resources of his imagination were endless. But 
I must cite one more example. A price had been set 
on his head, and to elude his pursuers he took refuge 
in a hospital ; he escaped thence in a coffin, with the 
help of an attendant whom he had bribed. In other 
words, he feigned death to save his life and the trick 
succeeded admirably. 

At the outset of the campaign of 1805, this emissary 
of Napoleon displayed extraordinary activity, while 
the Emperor was purposely prolonging his residence 
in Boulogne in order to conceal his projects. 

Indeed, at that time Napoleon was setting in motion 
a body of 30,000 men to watch the movements of the 
Austrians so he said while in reality he was advancing 
seven army corps on the Rhine and the Danube. And 
at the same time that his secret agents were keeping 
him informed of the enemy's movements " day by day 
and regiment by regiment," Napoleon wrote to the 
Minister of Police : 

" Forbid the newspapers to mention the army, any 
more than if it did not exist." 

And this is how it was that the Coalition never fully 
realised the advance of the French army till the bel- 
ligerents came into contact, so to speak. 

The value of Schulmeister's services was recognised 
in various documents which are still in existence ; notably 
in a report addressed to the Prefect of the Lower Rhine, 


and which is preserved in the National Archives. It 
commences in the following manner : 


" I have the honour of informing you that I have 
authorised the Prefect of the Police to deliver a pass- 
port to Ch. Schulmeister. I hear, through General 
Savary, that he has been usefully employed with the 
Grand Army, and that the services he has rendered 
...-." etc. 

He was known as " Napoleon's Spy." At all events, 
Napoleon certainly owed him his life on more than one 
occasion, and we read in various accounts that he " knew 
how to reveal at the right moment the conspiracies 
directed against the Emperor's life." 

We know and Constant mentions it also in his 
memoirs that Bonaparte used to say " that he had no 
time to think about protecting his own life, and that 
it concerned those who were appointed to take measures 
for his security." 

And one day the First Consul was heard to make 
the following remark to Fouche, then Minister of the 
Police : 

" You tell me that I am in danger, but it is your 
business to watch over my safety ; as for me, I cannot 
and must not be troubled with it." 

Though Schulmeister was handsomely rewarded for 
his services, he never obtained the Cross of the Legion 
of Honour, the one thing which he coveted above every- 
thing else. 

One day that he had given proof of more than his 
ordinary skill, the Emperor, who was in high good humour, 
said to him : " Come, I can refuse you nothing. What 
do you want ? " 


" Sire," he replied in tones of entreaty, " I beseech 
you to remember the precious reward you granted at 
Boulogne to those who had served you faithfully 

" What ! The Cross for you ? Oh, no never ! " 
answered the Emperor. " Money you can have as 
much as you want of it ; but the Legion of Honour I 
reserve for my brave fellows." 



Appreciation and Biography of Bruix His Pavilion Naval 
Incidents English Fire-ships and Catamarans The Attack 
of October 2-3, 1804, on the Ships of the Line Memorable 
Scenes between Bonaparte and Bruix Parallel between 
the Two Chiefs Death of Bruix The Meaning of the 
Expression, " Sent to the Admiral." 

IF Napoleon valued Admiral Bruix so highly that, in 
spite of the violent contentions which sometimes arose 
between them, he had wished to have the Admiral's 
pavilion close to his own on the Plateau d'Odre, it was 
because he recognised in him a man of exceptional 

The author was fortunate enough to discover in the 
" Bibliotheque Nationale " various interesting studies 
and notices concerning Eustache Bruix ; and also a 
personal appreciation of the Admiral, written by Maziere, 
who was his private secretary as late as 1805. We could 
not, therefore, quote from a better authority ; and we 
are surprised, at first, to read the biographer's praise 
of the remarkable kindliness of this man, who yet did 
not hesitate, when necessary, to withstand Napoleon's 
masterful spirit with the most superb sang-froid. 

Allowance must be made, in the following extract, 
for the literary style of the period. 

" You all who were his friends," he writes in 1805, 
the very year of his death, " mourn above all the loss of 



so gentle a soul ; your grief will be only too well founded. 
I knew this man, and loved him with all the strength 
of a sacred friendship ; I had the advantage of sharing 
all that was most brilliant in his mind, and the 
privilege of being enlightened by his wisdom. I was 
the confidential friend of his thoughts, and witnessed 
his soul's innermost impulses. I have, so to speak, 
lived in his very consciousness. In our intimate con- 
versations he was as full of kindness as he was keen 
of wit, and never did greater intellect exist beneath 
such captivating charm." 

The reader will understand, on looking through the 
following short biographical notice of the great sailor, 
why it was that Napoleon felt such a strong personal 
regard for him. 

Though descended from a noble family of the Beam, 
Eustache Bruix was born far away from the mother 
country, at St. Domingo, in the Maribaroux quarter, 
in 1759. He retained all through life an affection for 
the land of his birth, a sentiment shared by Napoleon 
with regard to his beloved Corsica. Bonaparte's parents 
had hoped to make a sailor of their son, while it was 
the ambition of Bruix's that he should be a brilliant 
cavalry officer. But Fate had decided for the reverse 
in both cases. 

After going through the elementary schooling which 
was given to young Creoles in those days, young Bruix 
was sent to school, where he very soon pined for the 
free life in the open, which he had hitherto led. 

Though gifted with a good memory, imagination, 
and a quick intellect, he spent most of his time in organ- 
ising games for his school-fellows during playtime ; and 
in school hours he would invent new athletic contests 
and feats of agility for climbing masts, or boarding 
ships, etc. 


Commander of the Fleet. 


Young Bonaparte, too, as a schoolboy, took the 
lead among his fellows, forming barricades and bom- 
barding the rival camp with snowballs until the 
time came when he should use cannon-balls on the 
Continent, or bombshells from the military forges at 
Amble teuse. There was another similarity between the 
characters of the future admiral and the boy Napoleon ; 
both took advantage of the influence they possessed 
over their fellows to protect the weaker boys, or to 
take the part of those who might have been too harshly 
punished by the masters. 

When he had been through his course of studies, 
Bruix had not acquired much knowledge. His family, 
realising that he was bent on being a sailor, sent him 
to Brest, where he set to work at last in real earnest. 

However, when he was going up for the naval en- 
trance examination, his masters declared that his study 
of mathematics had been so slight that he could never 
hope to pass without going through very special 
preparation. His alleged deficiency in this particular 
science was so universally believed in, that Professor 
Besout declined to examine him in this subject. The 
candidate insisted, saying that he had the right to be 
examined as well as his comrades, and Besout consented, 
for the sake, no doubt, of putting this presumptuous 
lad to confusion. But it was he who was astounded 
by the clearness of Bruix's definitions and the rapidity 
of his solutions ; for, like Bonaparte, he was particularly 
gifted with regard to mathematics ; if he had taken 
very little trouble to study them at school, it was be- 
cause he understood them, as it were, by natural instinct. 

Bruix entered the Corps of Marine Guards, and dis- 
tinguished himself by his learning and also " by clever 
practical jokes, for he was always the ringleader in any 
smart trick played at Brest." 


His own comrades admitted that Bruix, like Bona- 
parte, exercised an irresistible fascination over all those 
he came in contact with. " He was a sort of enchanter," 
Maziere says of him ; and adds that this man of 
refined and brilliant intellect was impelled more than 
once " to forget the barbarous vocabulary of the navy 
in order to clothe his graceful fancies and subtle thoughts 
in the elegant language of poetry ; his verses recalled 
the careless ease of Chaulieu, and sometimes the ready 
wit of Voltaire." 

So great, indeed, was his reputation for readiness, 
that his friends would come and ask him for biting 
epigrams or well-turned madrigals, and were always 
sure of finding his Muse inexhaustible and attuned to 
the high pitch required by good taste. In 1782 he 
wrote an opera called The Wolf Hunt. 

Bruix was firm in his friendships, and never forgot 
those who had done him a service. In this respect 
again he resembled the man with whom we are establish- 
ing this comparison. From the day that Bruix was 
given a command, he determined to put theory into 
practice in the smallest details. " Very soon there 
was not one of the ship's boys who could take in a reef, 
or furl a top-gallant sail, better than he ; or run along 
a yard-arm more nimbly without any support." As a 
prelude to the good work he was to do later on as an 
organiser, Bruix wrote an " Elementary Treatise " for 
the use of those who were preparing to go into the navy. 

He had barely receive^ ohis commission when M. de 
Suffren thought of including him among the officers 
ordered out to the Indian campaign, but he was appointed 
instead to the Augusta, commanded by Bougainville. 
On his return from the expedition, he entered the Naval 
Academy at Brest. After the peace of 1783 there was 
nothing for him to do but to join training cruisers. 


After this he was given the command of the Pivert, 
a Government ship bound for St. Domingo. But just 
at this time his health became impaired; he asked for 
leave and came to Versailles to the house of the Arch- 
bishop de Brienne, where he was treated as though he 
were one of the family. 

As soon as he had recovered, he returned to Brest, 
and was placed in command of the Semillante for another 
expedition to St. Domingo. 

The Reign of Terror was at its height when he re- 
turned to France ; but keeping himself entirely outside 
politics, he led a very retired life in a small country 
house near Brest, and wrote a work which attracted 
Bonaparte's attention at a later period, and probably 
contributed more than anything else to his appointment 
as admiral of the Boulogne fleet. This work, dated 
1794, was entitled, " On Methods for the Supplying of 
the Navy." Very few copies of it are now extant, and 
it is not even to be found in the Bibliotheque Nationale. 

The time had now arrived when it was imperative 
that the French navy should be reorganised, and Admiral 
Villaret was commissioned to form a squadron. 

The Revolution had abolished the galleys, and this, 
no doubt, was a necessary reform ; but the regular navy 
was reduced to alarming proportions, while a spirit of 
indiscipline reigned on all the Government ships. Bruix 
took the command of the Indomitable, and enforced 
his authority in a case of serious mutiny ; then, having 
once given proof of his indomitable will, he displayed 
so much justice and care for the well-being of his sea- 
men, that he soon gained their implicit obedience, and 
acquired the affection of the whole crew. 

Finally, the Directory, guided by the advice of 
Hoche, and the feeling that existed among all the naval 
officers, appointed Bruix Minister of Marine. Brest 


was blockaded, at that time, by an English squadron. 
It is known to everyone how, as vice-admiral of the fleet, 
he boldly left port for the purpose of thoroughly dis- 
concerting the plans of the English ; but the stratagem 
he employed to baffle the blockading squadron is not 
so generally known. He purposely allowed a ship to 
fall into their hands, which had on board, among other 
documents, a fictitious plan of manoeuvres ; and the 
English squadron lay in wait for him on the Irish coast 
when he had already reached the Mediterranean ; his 
object was to re- victual Genoa. This expedition was 
cited in the House of Parliament as an act of daring 
skill which should serve as a warning for the future. 

At the time of the i8th Brumaire, Bruix was in 
Paris. Bonaparte, recognising in him a man of strong 
determination, confided to him his plans. When the 
Peace of Amiens was broken, the First Consul, who 
had given him the command of the squadrons at Roche- 
fort, decided to give him the supreme direction of the 
Channel Fleet, and in 1803 he was appointed admiral in 

Nowadays, fireside tacticians and journalists con- 
stituting themselves admirals, like to think that the 
whole scheme of the flotilla was puerile, and that a con- 
summate seaman like Bruix only countenanced it from 
mere sycophancy. This would be misrepresenting him 

Now the following extract will give an idea of the 
feeling, in 1805, among those who were participators 
in the events of the time, and could form an opinion of 
the plans of invasion. " The inestimable advantages 
attaching to such a conception do not appear to be 

* On 7 Messidor, Year IX., Rear-Admiral Latouche-Treville had already 
taken the command of the flotilla, and had established his quarters at the 
Tour d'Odre. 


fully realised ; many points of utility have been over- 
looked in this scheme of creating a new army, in the 
form of a flotilla which, acting as a daily menace to 
England, constrains her to turn her good commercial 
men into bad soldiers, to have her coasts bristling with 
camps, and to suspend to a great extent the work 
of the nation. It was a stroke of genius on the part of 
the Emperor, and Bruix has had a share in its execution.* 

Meanwhile, in England, the scientists, chemists, and 
admirals had been appealed to, to discover some means 
of destroying this alarming host of boats, at all costs. 
Whereupon they formed the plan of destroying the 
flotilla by means of fireships and catamarans. 

I must enter here into a few technical details in 
order to make the reader understand the nature of the 
projected attack. I will say a word, first, concerning 
the fireships. 

A fireship was an old boat, intended to set fire to 
an enemy's ships. Large quantities of inflammable 
matter were accumulated between-decks, such as resin, 
turpentine, saltpetre, and powder. 

There were various methods of using fireships. Gener- 
ally the boat transformed into a sailing fireship was sent 
to windward of the enemy's ship ; in this case, the 
captain ordered the crew to get into their boat at the 
last moment, and then set fire to the ship's contents 
by means of a slow match. 

But as, in the case of the flotilla, it meant setting 
fire to ships at anchor, the English proceeded differently. 
In order to ensure their fireships coming into contact 
with their enemy, they so placed their boats that they 
should drift with the wind and currents in the right 

Taught by experience or, rather, by numerous 

* Mazi&re. 


failures the English gradually perfected their modes 
of attack ; so that in 1807 they were able by this means 
to set fire to the French squadron anchored in the road- 
stead at the Island of Aix. 

Torpedoes and submarine mines have replaced the 
old fireships in modern naval warfare. 

As for a catamaran, properly speaking, it is a raft 
used for fishing at sea or crossing the surf on the Coro- 
mandel coast. It is made of large pieces of timber, 
from pine or cocoanut trees, unequal in length, bound 
together with ropes, and shaping to a point at the fore. 
But in a special sense, we call catamarans those rafts 
which were laden with combustibles and directed to- 
wards the Boulogne flotilla in 1804. It will interest 
the reader to have a description of these craft which 
were perfected by English engineers, and notably by 
Lord Melville, First Lord of the Admiralty. 

These catamarans were large chests, three and a 
half metres long and one metre wide, pointed at both 
ends, with no mast, hermetically closed and ballasted 
in such a way that they floated flush with the water. They 
were filled with powder and inflammable matter. 

The explosion was timed for a certain moment, 
according to the regulated clockwork, which was set 
in motion when the catamaran was despatched on its 
errand. The English Admiralty anticipated much suc- 
cess from these new methods, and the dockyards at 
Portsmouth were ordered to make large numbers of 
these fatal chests that rather resembled long coffins. 

But the enemy had reckoned without Bruix, the 
shrewdest of men, who had sailed through the Medi- 
terranean and the Bay of Biscay defying the three 
squadrons in pursuit ; the man who, like Napoleon, had 
a clear perception of things, who foresaw events ; who 
had, in short, the power of observation. 


On one occasion, Bruix was scanning the horizon 
from his pavilion at nightfall, when his attention was 
arrested by the position of the English squadron, which 
was more towards the west than it had been before. 

Reasoning ^by induction, he came to the following 
conclusion : 

If the enemy take up a position which is less advan- 
tageous for themselves, both by reason of the currents 
and of the possibility of attack, they must have a serious 
motive in view. Then he told his officers what he sur- 
mised. " To-night, gentlemen, I think you will have 
an opportunity of witnessing a strange demonstration 
of fireworks, which will not be wanting in interest. Let 
all the ships moored in line be warned that the enemy 
intends this night to send fireships and catamarans 
adrift with the tide and current. In consequence, as 
many of the boats that can come into the harbour must 
do so, and the rest must come close in, taking care to 
leave as much space as possible between the ships ; 
the most able and trustworthy among the seamen will 
man boats, armed with long poles headed with iron 
spikes to push off the fireships if necessary ; lastly, the 
tactics to adopt, are a general change of position at the 
right moment, in order to let those terrible floating 
machines pass by harmlessly." Bruix's presentiment 
was realised. 

During the night of October 2nd to 3rd, 1804, these 
incendiary machines were sent adrift through the line 
formed by the French gunboats ; " but as they found 
nothing to come in contact with, they drifted, till they 
were stranded on the Boulonnais shore, where they 
presented a magnificent spectacle of fireworks to the 
camp and fleet." 

After the First Consul himself, Bruix was the man 
on whose shoulders lay the heaviest responsibility, in 


the year 1803. For while the army was commanded 
by the very ablest generals, no such state of efficiency 
existed in the navy. It needed reforming ; indeed, 
complete transformation. 

Now Bruix, as we have seen, was distinguished by 
an incomparable spirit of organisation, and by his prac- 
tical views, often so simple, that everybody wondered 
why these things had not been thought of before. 

And so it was that Napoleon frequently repaired 
with him to their post of observation, near the Bruix 
Pavilion, in order to discuss the grave problems which 
preoccupied them both. The result of this exchange 
of ideas between the two men was a series of ingenious 
plans which were to solve, or overcome, their most serious 
difficulties. The following resolutions were adopted by 
mutual agreement : 

" That the ammunition be stowed in the holds of 
the boats, to serve as ballast. 

" That the foot-soldiers be taught to row, so that 
the army can transport itself across the Channel with 
sail and oar. 

" That some thousands of soldiers, chosen from 
among the more robust, be employed as workmen, to 
dig out docks and build new quays. 

" That the horses be transported in flat-bottomed 
boats to facilitate their being shipped and landed irre- 
spective of the tide. 

" That in the case of large vessels, the animals be 
hoisted and deposited in the hold by means of the (ship's) 
yards, so as to dispense with cranes. 

" That the timber required for the harbour works, 
and for certain parts in the construction of boats, be 
cut from the forests of the Boulonnais, which should 
be placed at the disposal of the Minister of Marine." 

It was in September, 1803, that the First Consul 


directed Bruix then suffering from ill-health to take 
up his quarters on the Plateau d'Odre. 

This situation commanded a view of the roadstead, 
the quays, and the docks, both of Capecure and of the 
Liane, so that Napoleon and the admiral could take 
in at one glance the whole of the works that were in 

As the admiral's temporary dwelling was exposed 
to all the winds of the compass, greater care was taken 
to stop up crevices and make it habitable than was 
expended on the house occupied by the First Consul. 

Although Napoleon placed the greatest confidence 
in Decres and de Gauteaume, he held Bruix in still 
higher esteem, because he had discovered in this officer 
an unusual decision of character allied to an indomitable 
will. But these very qualities, invaluable to a man in 
high command, were precisely those which distinguished 
Napoleon himself. It was inevitable, therefore, that 
their unyielding tempers should occasionally bring them 
into collision. 

Bonaparte was hasty, violent, and passionate ; Bruix, 
on the contrary, was calm, deliberate, but none the less 
determined. Their natures were of the finest metal, 
though cast in a different mould ; both were inflexible. 

The one had keen foresight, the other a ripe judg- 
ment ; the first was consumed with restless activity, 
the second gathered himself together, as it were, and 
then, suddenly, went straight as a dart towards the 
object he had in view. 

Each resembled the other in this respect : that, 
having once decided on the course to pursue, he swept 
aside everything that stood between him and the fulfil- 
ment of his purpose, and from that moment was solely 
occupied with the best means for the safe accomplish- 
ment of his plans. 


These two men had the greatest regard for each 
other, but the stubbornness of their disposition gave 
rise to some memorable scenes, of which we will cite 
typical examples. 

One of these conflicts took place under the following 
circumstances : 

Bonaparte had just arrived at headquarters at 
Pont-de-Briques, when the admiral sent him word that 


a French flotilla, coming from Dunkirk and Ostend, 
and laden with munitions of war, had been signalled, 
and that several English ships accompanying a frigate 
were preparing to bar the entrance to the port of 
Boulogne. Meanwhile, the order had been given every- 
where to clear for action ; the batteries of the Wooden 
Fort, La Creche, the Musoir, the Tour Croi, and the 
Tour d'Odre made preparations to engage ; and the 
order was signalled to the 250 gunboats moored in line 
to be ready to open fire. In fact, no less than 500 
guns, not including the batteries of the forts, were only 


waiting for a signal from the admiral to engage in general 

While these preparations were being made, the First 
Consul rode into Boulogne, at full speed, to superintend 
the defence. 

As soon as he had watched the manoeuvres of the 
English cutters, brigs, and frigates, he concluded that 
an engagement was inevitable, and at once determined 
to take part in it himself. 

Stepping with Bruix into a boat manned by Marine 
Guards, he insisted on being rowed out as far as the 
line of ships. At one moment a veritable hail of shot 
and shell fell round the little boat ; and the admiral, 
feeling that it was only running useless risks to go beyond 
the Fort de Croi, north of Boulogne, remarked to Bona- 
parte that it would be wiser to coast along the shore 
as far as Wimereux, keeping under cover of the coast 

" What should we gain by doubling the fort ? " he 
asked. " Nothing but shots ! " 

But Bonaparte insisted on going over the, whole 
line, in order to see and be seen ; and besides, the mere 
" fear of projectiles " was not likely to have much weight 
in inducing him to modify his plans, and to give in. On 
the contrary ! But Bruix remembered that he was in 
command of the flotilla, and that bravery may become 
mere bravado when there is peril in it, without profit ; 
he reflected, also, that " when he was at sea he stood 
on his own ground," as he was fond of saying on occa- 
sion. The admiral, therefore, realising the danger, and 
also the responsibility he would incur in giving way 
to a whim, gave the sailors a formal order to make for 
the little port of Wimereux, without doubling Fort Croi. 

"Sailors of 'my' Guard," exclaimed Napoleon, 
" obey the order of your chief ! " 


" Sailors of the Guard, I forbid you to do so ; obey 
your admiral's orders ! " 

Every man in the navy was well aware that there 
was no disobeying Bruix's orders ; besides, the tone 
of his command on this occasion gave no opportunity 
for hesitation, and the men silently obeyed the order 
to veer. Whereupon the First Consul went into a fit of 
violent anger, and loaded the admiral with reproaches. 
Without answering a word, Bruix allowed the storm 
to burst, and, confident in his own judgment and ex- 
perience, kept his eye fixed on the roadstead, awaiting 
impassively the justification of his conduct of which 
he felt certain. The boat had hardly turned towards 
the coast, when a transport that had just doubled the 
fort in question received a terrific shower of shells, which 
ripped her open, and sunk her there and then. The 
evidence was so obvious that there was no necessity 
for Bruix to find an excuse for his disobedience ; and 
the First Consul, realising that he had been in the wrong, 
said nothing more : he merely turned his back on the 
admiral and began to whistle, and in this manner the 
boat reached the port of Wimereux. 

As soon as it touched ground, Bonaparte jumped 
out briskly, declining the help which the admiral, 
standing bare-headed, respectfully offered ; and walked 
up the cliff to inspect the batteries, talking familiarly 
with the soldiers, encouraging them, and bidding them 
above all, to take careful aim. It was on this occasion 
that a gunner, who was pointing a piece, said, " Would 
you like to see, general, how we bring down the bow- 
sprit of a frigate ? " 

He fired the shot, and the bowsprit fell into the sea, 
cut in half by the shot. Bonaparte, delighted with 
this diversion, congratulated the clever marksman and 
supplemented his praise with a gift of money. 


And now I may mention another episode. On 
July igth, 1804, the Emperor went to Boulogne, and 
was received in a manner best described in the following 
Order of the Day : 

" His Majesty reached Boulogne harbour yesterday 
afternoon at three o'clock. The moment H.M. appeared 
on the beach he was saluted by goo rounds, fired from 
the ships moored in line, and from all the batteries 
right and left of the port. 

" His Majesty inspected the Fort de 1'Heurt, Fort 
Napoleon, Fort de la Creche, and Fort Rouge, and 
was present at the firing practice of the various guns 
that form the defence. 

" Afterwards, H.M. went to the roadstead and 
boarded the flagship, whence he issued orders to several 
boats of the first class, to get under weigh, and manoeuvre 
in the open sea, escorted by several of the' shallops. 
His Majesty followed the evolutions of the division 
in his pinnace. The wind was blowing from the 
south-west, and there was a heavy swell. The enemy's 
squadron, composed of two ships-of-the-line, two 
frigates, three brigs, and one cutter, was under sail, 
at a distance of two leagues in a W.N. -Westerly 
direction. This squadron cast anchor at five o'clock. 

" On his return into port, H.M. was cheered every- 
where with the greatest enthusiasm, and his presence 
acclaimed, by a vast concourse of people lining the 
quays, with shouts of ' Long live the Emperor ! ' 

"At 8.30 H.M. drove to his headquarters atPont-de- 
Briques. The marshal, commander-in-chief of the camp 
at St. Omer ; the admiral, and the officers of the army 
and navy had the honour of accompanying H. Majesty 
on his round of inspection. 

" The Chief of the General Staff, 
" L Imperial Fleet, 

" M. LAFOND." 


Towards evening there was a gale, and this circum- 
stance led to a dramatic encounter between Napoleon 
and Bruix. This historical fact is remembered in Bou- 
logne to this day, and is vouched for by a trustworthy 
witness, who writes : 

" The inhabitants of Boulogne, and the peasants 
in the surrounding districts, would have laid down their 
lives willingly for the Emperor. The smallest personal 
details concerning him were treasured, and became the 
subject of their conversation. But on one occasion he 
was unjust, and his conduct gave cause for complaint." 

One morning, before setting out on horseback, the 
Emperor announced his intention of holding a general 
review of the fleet, and commanded the men-of-war 
to weigh anchor, as the review would take place in the 

Having given orders that everything should be 
ready on his return at a given hour, he started for his 
daily ride, accompanied by Roust an. Admiral Bruix 
was immediately informed of the Emperor's wishes, 
when he replied, with imperturbable assurance, 
" that he was very sorry, but the review could not be 
held on that day." 

Every ship, therefore, remained at her station. 

The Emperor returned, and on his inquiring whether 
all preparations were completed, the admiral's answer 
was reported to him verbatim. The words had to be 
repeated twice, and the Emperor, who was not in the 
habit of receiving such messages from a subordinate, 
ordered the admiral to appear. 

Finding, however, that he did not obey the summons 
with sufficient alacrity, Napoleon sallied forth, and met 
Bruix half-way from the barracks. His Majesty was 
accompanied by his staff, who stood in a group behind 
him. His eyes blazed with passion. 


" Admiral," and his voice shook, " why did you not 
carry out my orders ? " 

" Sire," replied Bruix with respectful firmness, " a 
terrible storm is preparing. Your Majesty must see 
this as well as I do. Surely, you will not risk the lives 
of so many brave men unnecessarily ? " 

And, indeed, the wild appearance of the sky and 
the distant rumbling of thunder clearly showed that the 
admiral's fears were well grounded. 

" Sir," cried the Emperor, more and more incensed, 
" I gave my orders. Again I ask, why did you not 
obey them ? Their consequence is my affair, and mine 
only. Obey at once ! " 

" Sire, I will not obey." 

The Emperor stepped towards the admiral, and 
raised the riding- whip he clenched in his hand. 

Bruix stepped back, and laying his hand on his 
sword-hilt, " Sire," he exclaimed, pale with anger, 
" take care ! " 

The bystanders were seized with alarm. The Em- 
peror remained motionless, his arm still raised, his eyes 
fixed on the admiral, who never stirred. Then, at last, 
Napoleon flung his whip to the ground, and Bruix re- 
leased the hilt of his sword, awaiting bare-headed the 
result of this terrible scene. The two men moved apart, 
exchanging one long glance which seemed to express : 
" We must control ourselves ; the consequences would 
be too serious." 

In the meantime, and in spite of this scene, Rear- 
Admiral Magon endeavoured to execute the fatal 
manoeuvre which the Emperor had insisted upon. 

But the preparations had barely been completed 
when the full fury of the gale burst over the fleet. Light- 
ning flashed incessantly across the overladen sky, thunder 
roared continually, and the wind broke the lines. In 



fact, everything happened as the admiral had foreseen, 
and the ships, driven helplessly before the hurricane, 
were so dispersed, that the worst fears were entertained 
for their safety. 

Meanwhile, the Emperor was anxiously pacing up and 
down the beach, with folded arms and bent head, when 
suddenly terrible cries were heard. Over twenty gun- 
boats, manned with soldiers and sailors, had gone ashore, 
and the unfortunate men were struggling against the 
heavy seas, and shouting for help which no one ventured 
to give. The Emperor, deeply distressed at the sight, 
and moved by the lamentations of the crowd that 
had collected on the beach, was the first to give the 
example of devotion and courage ; in spite of the efforts 
made to detain him, he stepped into a lifeboat, exclaim- 
ing, " Let me alone let me alone ! We must get them 
out of that ! " In an instant the boat was filled with 
water; huge breakers surged over it, one of which very 
nearly swept his Majesty overboard, and washed away 
his hat. Then the officers, soldiers, sailors, and towns- 
people, inspired by the Emperor's example, jumped into 
the water, or manned boats, to try and save the 
drowning men. But few, alas ! of the unfortunate crews 
were saved, and on the following day over two hundred 
corpses were washed up 'on the beach, together with 
the hat of the victor of Marengo. 

Day broke over a scene of mourning and desolation ; 
soldiers and inhabitants streamed along the shore, 
searching anxiously among the bodies that the waves 
threw up on the beach. The Emperor was greatly 
affected by the calamity, which he could not but attri- 
bute inwardly to his own obstinacy. 

Agents were sent into the town and camps to dis- 
tribute gold, and thereby put a stop to the whispered 
indignation that was ready to break out openly. " That 


same day a drummer, off one of the gunboats, was seen 
to reach the shore, thanks to his drum, which served 
as a buoy. The poor fellow's thigh was broken, and 
he had been in this painful state for twelve hours or 

Marshal Soult, colonel in command of the Emperor's 
Guard, sent a report of the event to General Berthier, 
Minister of War, and writing from Boulogne on July 22nd, 
1804, he mentions that " a few men had perished, 
. . . perhaps fifty altogether." The following is the 
document : 


" MONSIEUR, I have the honour to inform you 
of an extremely unfortunate event which caused the 
loss of a few soldiers, and damaged several of the ships. 
In the afternoon of the 20th July, as the wind was 
freshening for a gale from the north-east, the ships of 
the flotilla that were in the roadstead were given the 
order to come in. Many of the boats were able to execute 
the manoeuvre, but those that were to leeward, and 
had snapped their fastenings, were compelled to get 
under weigh and make for Etaples, which port forty-two 
of them reached in safety ; but four gunboats, two 
shallops, and two caiques were caught by the currents 
and went ashore. The crews of four of the boats, 
and their complements, were saved ; but unfortunately 
some of the men on board the last four were drowned, 
and we fear the disaster has caused the loss of about 
fifty men. The reports I shall receive will enable me 
to give you a more exact account of the catastrophe, 
and to give you the names of a number of brave men l 
who risked their lives to save their drowning comrades. 
" His Imperial Majesty himself passed the night 
on the shore, and in the surf, directing the salvage 


operations, and his august, presence was of the greatest 
comfort to the unfortunate men on the wrecks. I have 
the honour to salute you. SOULT." 

The day after the accident the Emperor addressed 
a letter to the Empress, which sufficiently betrayed 
the emotion and nervous excitement under which he 
was still labouring, and knowing full well that Josephine 
would guess the real truth between the lines, he 
wrote : 


" During the four days of my absence from you, 
I have been on horseback or on the move continuously, 
but without being any the worse for it in health. 

" Monsieur Maret has informed me that you intend 
leaving on Monday, and if you travel by short stages 
you will have time to reach the waters without fatiguing 

" The wind freshened to a gale last night, and one 
of our gunboats in the roadstead dragged her anchors 
and struck on the rocks, a league from Boulogne. I 
feared at first that everything was lost, but we man- 
aged to save them all. It was a grand and terrible 
scene : the firing of minute guns, fires lit all along the 
beach, the sea lashed into fury ; and the night was 
passed in anxiety as to whether the unfortunate men 
could be saved, or whether we must stand by and see 
them perish. The soul was face to face with Eternity, 
Night, and the Ocean. At five o'clock in the morning 
everything cleared, all was saved, and I went to bed 
with the sensation that all this was a romantic and 
epic dream, and that I alone had been through it all ; 
but being tired and soaked to the skin, I had no inclina- 
tion to think of anything but going to sleep." 



The Emperor was most anxious, naturally, to 
attenuate the effect produced by the accident, but his 
enemies were no less anxious to make the very most 
of it : describing the gale of July 2Oth as a " great 
disaster," they were only too ready to charge him with 
the full responsibility of a decision which was an un- 
fortunate one, certainly, but still, not necessarily fraught 
with consequences as serious as they made out. 

The number of victims was much exaggerated, and 
the " Annual Register " of 1804, for instance, puts 
down the number of Frenchmen drowned as 400. The 
author adds : " Napoleon was thus able to realise that 
there were other things for him to fear besides English 
ships and shells when the time came for him to take 
his huge Armada across the Channel." This allusion 
to the greatest peril that ever menaced England, and 
the implied comparison between the projects of Philip 
of Spain and those of Napoleon, would seem to prove 
that the Emperor's plan of invasion was not considered 
altogether chimerical at the time. 

Napoleon never referred again to his terrible scene 
with Bruix, except on one occasion at St. Helena. He 
was conversing with Bertrand, when he remarked sadly : 
" Poor Bruix ! If all those who were with me then, 
and after, had been as straightforward and courageous 
as he, probably I should not be here now." 

Bruix's sang-froid was proverbial, and he gave many 
a proof of it during his residence at Boulogne. The 
incident I am about to relate took place a short time 
before the First Consul's arrival at Boulogne. 

One day (Bonaparte was then at St. Cloud) an urgent 
message was delivered to the admiral at his pavilion, 
to the effect that Nelson was approaching at the head 
of a strong squadron. Bruix had invited his staff and 
various people from Boulogne to luncheon, and the 


guests were having dessert and singing the " passage 
of Mount St. Bernard, in chorus, when the enemy's 
movements were reported." Bruix calmly told Rear- 
Admiral Magon to have the tables brought close up to 
the window overlooking the roadstead, and declared 
that it wasn't worth while interrupting the feast. Then, 
answering the remarks of the rear-admiral, he explained 
that although he intended remaining in his pavilion, 
that was no reason for declining the engagement ; and 
he was quite prepared, without moving from where he 
was, to give battle to the enemy who had come to dis- 
turb him so inopportunely. He had scarcely announced 
this resolution so characteristic of the man when the 
English frigates fired terrible broadsides, which shook 
the very atmosphere. " Don't disturb your repast for 
so slight a cause it is nothing ! " said Bruix, smiling 
at his guests, who were very much alarmed. " Now, 
then, gentlemen, pass round the champagne. Mean- 
while, I must go and give -a few orders." And without 
leaving his pavilion, the admiral signalled his orders to 
the batteries, and directed the flotilla to manoeuvre so 
effectually, that after a fierce encounter Nelson had 
to retire, not without sustaining considerable damage. 
As soon as Bruix saw the English squadron make for 
the open, he exclaimed " Victory ! " and hastened to 
refill the glasses of his guests, whose singing had been 
interrupted so unexpectedly by the salvoes of guns 
and howitzers. 

When Bonaparte received a detailed account of 
the engagement, in a report from Decres, he did not 
conceal his displeasure, for nothing could be less in 
conformity with his own methods than this dangerous 
spirit of bravado, which might also have a very bad 
effect on the officers. After reading the report, he ex- 
claimed angrily : " Very good ; but it will never do 


to suppose that a battle can be won with a glass of 
champagne in the hand. It is with sword in hand that 
men in command must give the example to their sub- 
ordinates." And we all know how the Emperor prac- 
tised himself the counsels he preached to others, in this 
respect. It was perhaps only natural that men who 
were jealous of the favour Bruix enjoyed, should turn 
these various incidents to account, in order to influence 
the ministers against him. He felt this deeply, as we 
may see by the disconsolate letter that follows, and in 
which poor Bruix who was at that time very ill, and 
in great distress of mind wonders whether he has really 
entirely lost the Emperor's regard : 


" For himself alone. 

" BOULOGNE, 13 Fmctidor, Year XII. 
" I cannot despatch my courier without sending 
you a few lines by the same opportunity ; and perhaps 
the best way of obtaining news of yourself, is to tell 
you a little about myself. While the Emperor was 
here, I had much worry and fatigue, and some grief 
as well. H. Majesty appears to be dissatisfied with 
my work, and I am not even quite sure of the opinion 
he may have of my zeal and devotion. This is not 
surprising, for among the thousand and one things that 
had to be done here, his attention is only drawn to the 
few that still require doing ; they pass rapidly over 
all the difficulties which have been surmounted, over 
the good order that has been established in almost all 
parts of the Service, etc., and they fix his attention on 
those which still show signs of neglect and oversight. 
He is so frequently told that I am weak ; that my first 
object is to be popular ; that I relax all discipline, 


show too much indulgence, and dispense Government 
favours and Treasury money freely, in order to attain 
this end. These things are impressed upon him every 
day, so artfully and so persistently, that they are bound 
to influence him in course of time. I am not even certain 
as to whether they have not tried to make him sus- 
picious of my fidelity, and of my feelings towards him- 
self. I cannot help believing this to be the case, for I 
have been compelled to dismiss one of my adjutants 
whom I loved as though he were my son ; and all the 
pledges I gave the Emperor of this officer's honour, 
innocence, and loyalty, were of no avail to save me 
from this vexation. And where are the men whose 
devotion to the Emperor is so much greater than my 
own, as to give them the power to persuade him that 
my opinion, my entreaties, and even my oath are not 
worthy of his consideration ? A very little more, and 
they would have changed the chief of my staff. Ever 
since this flotilla was first started, the Ministry has 
worked on the system of surrounding me with men 
of their own choosing, always trying to deprive me of 
officers I wished to have, and giving me men I could 
neither like nor esteem. In this same spirit, also, they 
are constantly bringing forward General Lacrosse to the 
Emperor's notice, although they really set very little 
value on him ; but they represent him as being the 
most excellent of all officers, the one without whom I 
should be^able to do nothing. 

" You may judge from all this, my dear Talleyrand, 
that I am almost heart-broken, and that my position, 
both for the present and for the future, is most difficult. 
My health, which was only kept up by strength of will 
and by the desire to serve the Emperor, is failing rapidly, 
and perhaps it will be my fate to be appreciated by the 
Emperor only when I am gone. 


" Everyone tells me that the waters of Valengay, 
and your visit there, have done you much good. May 
peace of mind and the realisation of all your wishes 
add to your good health. Be sure that I can never be 
quite unhappy as long as you are happy. Good-bye. 
I embrace you with a full heart. g BRUIX." 

The lung trouble from which Bruix was suffering, 
soon made alarming progress. On the very day that 
the admiral left his pavilion at Boulogne to attend the 
coronation of the Emperor, he was seized with haemor- 
rhage, and from that time his friends realised that his 
condition was hopeless. 

He never came back to Boulogne, for he was too 
weak to stand the keen air of the Plateau d'Odre ; but 
on his bed of sickness in Paris, his secretary relates, his 
mind was always reverting to the modest quarters 
from which he had so often gazed upon the Channel ; 
and during the last days of his life, " in his wanderings 
and delirium, he saw nothing but this fleet, which he 
had so hoped to make into a mighty fighting force ; 
when he was actually dying, he prayed that he might 
be spared a little longer, in order that his work might 
be completed." 

Bruix died on Ventose 27th, Year XIII. (March, 1805), 
at the age of forty-five. France sustained an irreparable 
loss in the death of her great admiral ; and the Emperor, 
who had never really borne him any malice for having 
dared to contradict him, felt the loss very keenly. For 
these illustrious men were both striving for the same 
ideal, even when they clashed ; their aim was identical 
the glory of their country. 

The army and the navy, and the inhabitants of 
Boulogne, eager to show every mark of respect for the 
memory of Admiral Bruix, organised an imposing funeral 


service, on April 4th, 1805. The following is a descrip- 
tion : 

On that day a gun was fired from hour to hour, from 
sunrise until ten o'clock in the morning, at which hour 
the procession was timed to start for church. 

The army sent detachments, and each squadron of 
the flotilla was represented by 100 seamen, bearing 
swords, and headed by the senior captains of the navy ; 
Rear-Admiral Samary was in command of the naval 

The regulations were, crape on all flags, standards, 
or ensigns ; drums to be covered with black serge ; 
the trumpets with crape, and muffled ; the whole of the 
shipping to be in mourning ; the church to be draped 
in black, the altars to be lighted up, and a Low Mass 
to be celebrated at each. In fact, everything was done 
to make the ceremony one of national mourning. A 
mausoleum occupied the centre of the nave, and was 
surrounded by candelabra and funeral torches ; it con- 
sisted of a pedestal resting on three steps ; the panels 
were engraved with inscriptions and allegorical designs. 
The legend on one panel ran thus : " He was as kind a 
father as he was a great commander ; mourned by his 
family and his country." On the other side, the in- 
scription read, " He was honoured by the confidence 
placed in him by his Sovereign, and he died in his ser- 
vice." On the panel to the right, the navy was repre- 
sented as a woman bowed down with grief, sitting on 
rocks beneath the shade of a weeping willow, and looking 
towards the fleet at anchor, and flags at half-mast. 
Finally, on the fourth panel, was a view of the port of 
Boulogne, taken from the roadstead, showing, in the 
front, the line of ships, formed of the various classes 
of boats which composed the flotilla, with flags at 
half-mast, and guns firing a salute. 


On the pedestal was a sarcophagus draped in crape, 
and on it were placed a funereal urn, adorned with a 
wreath of oak and laurel leaves, the Grand Cordon of 
the Legion of Honour, and the admiral's sword and belt. 

Twelve small boys, with the same number of little 
girls, and four old women, dressed in the uniform of 
the poorhouse, were grouped as mourners to right and 
left of the monument ; each held a funeral torch. The 
flags of the flotilla and of the Boulonnais were grouped 
at the head and foot of the mausoleum, and there was 
also a black banner, with silver fringe and tassels, bearing 
the inscription, on one side. " To Admiral Bruix, Grand 
Officer of the Empire, from the grateful Flotilla " ; and 
on the other side, " Died the 27th Ventose, Year XIII., 
in the first year of the reign of Napoleon." The officers 
of the army and navy expeditionary forces had subscribed 
towards the expenses of the memorial service, which was 
celebrated with great pomp. A requiem Mass by Gossec 
and various compositions by Mozart were performed by 
a full orchestra, in which the amateurs of the town 
were invited to join. 

Besides the religious ceremony, the navy also erected 
a monument to the memory of her great commander 
in the church of St. Nicholas at Boulogne ; it was still 
to be seen as late as the year 1895. Two flags, bearing 
four golden eagles, stood at each side of the monument, 
when it was first put up, but these were removed at the 
time of the Restoration. 

Before closing this chapter on Bruix, I must give 
an explanation of the term " Sent to the Admiral," 
which constantly occurs in the Orders of the Day, and 
in the private and official correspondence of the time, 
and which gave rise to many mistakes and amusing 
blunders on the part of some people. 

To send anyone " to the admiral " was anything 


but preparing him for a cordial reception on the part 
of the commander of the flotilla ; it simply meant sending 
him to prison. There are many proofs of this in the 
old documents. For instance, among the "Orders of 
the Day of the National Flotilla " we come across reso- 
lutions such as the following : " The Captain of the 
second class boat No. 34, of the ist Division, will be 
deprived of his command and ' sent to the admiral ' 
for four days ; after that period, he will be drafted to 
one of the boats of the flotilla, on his pay, for having 
refused to obey the chief of his section on a point 
of duty. (6 Ventose, Year XII.) Signed, LAFOND, chief 
of the staff." 

The next day the following order was read out to 
the troops : 

" Whenever any men on board the boats of the 
flotilla are sent to hospital, suffering from itch, the 
captains must see that the hammocks, blankets, and 
any other article belonging to the Republic, which these 
men have used, be soaked in sea- water ; the chief medical 
officer of the division to which these men belong, will 
have the aforesaid articles disinfected with sulphur. . . . 
The chief medical officer of the 5th Division of second- 
class boats will inspect daily the ' Admiral's Prisons.' " 

Again, on the gth Ventose, " Citizen Hamele, medical 
officer on board the first-class boat No. 156 of the 2nd 
Division, will be ' sent to the admiral ' for a period of 
eight days, and then dismissed the service." 



The Portus Itius and Boulogne Roadstead Comparison between 
the Roman Conquest and Napoleon's Scheme of Invasion. 

WHY did the First Consul choose the port and road- 
stead of Boulogne for the concentration of the flotilla ? 

When the modern Caesar planned a revival of the 
Roman Caesar's successful enterprise in England, it was 
but natural that he should select for his starting point 
the very port which had seemed most favourable to the 
great conqueror's plans,* the same also which Philippe- 
Auguste had^ chosen for mustering his force of 1,700 
sailing vessels, as a menace to England. 

This historical point deserves special notice, since 
it has been a subject of much discussion among the most 
distinguished scholars of various epochs. 

First of all, we must remember that from a nautical 
point of view, the existing conditions in the nineteenth 
century did not differ very materially from those ob- 
taining in Caesar's time, when the conqueror of Gaul 
first penetrated into the land of the Morini, and therefore, 
the comparison between the two enterprises is doubly 

Although nineteen centuries had elapsed since Caesar 
crossed the Channel with his invading host, time had 

* " Quo ex portu commodissimum in Britanniam transmissum esse 
cognoverat." (Caesar, Lib. IV.) 



but slightly altered the modes of transport across the 
seas. Napoleon, no better equipped in this respect 
than Julius Caesar, had nothing but sailing- and rowing- 
ships at his command, for the steam navigation was 
then only in its infancy, and its first trials were very 
incomplete and wholly insufficient. 

The two Caesars, therefore, were more or less identically 
situated, and in consequence, the Commentaries became 
the daily reading of the First Consul, who began at 
once by studying the conditions of a possible crossing 
and landing. 

What one man had achieved, the other could also, 
since the gallantry of his army was in no way inferior 
to the valour of the Roman legions, and since the Bou- 
lonnais privateers and seamen had, for generations, 
displayed as much mature experience as high-spirited 

And again, though Napoleon, like Caesar, had only 
sailing ships, still, the artillery taken in the real sense 
of the word " ars telorum," with which they were 
provided, was a material improvement to the armament 
of the ships. 

But was Boulogne really the Portus Itius from which 
Julius Caesar's fleet sailed for England ? 

The author must be permitted to enter into certain 
details concerning this interesting question. 

A distinguished archaeologist, who was for many 
years keeper of the records of Boulogne, Canon Haignere, 
devoted much time to the study of the matter I now 
allude to. I had already read the works of this learned 
author, but wishing to elucidate various special points, 
I went to see him in his little house at Waast, and ob- 
tained from him the most interesting information on 
Portus Itius, in particular, as'a result of his own careful 
and conscientious researches. 


The notes I took down at the time are all the more 
precious, since my old friend died but a few days after 
my visit, and his valuable learning is now lost to his 

But by recalling my own impressions, and referring 
to the notes, I am able to reproduce the principal 
elements of our conversation in the little presbytery 
of Waast, in September, 1893. 

We know that the famous Portus Itius has been 
located at Ostend, Dunkirk, Gravelines, Calais, Amble- 
teuse, Wimereux, Etaples, Saint-Valery, and Dieppe ; 
in fact, there is scarcely a port on the Channel that has 
not claimed the honour of having been chosen by the 
conqueror of Gaul, some even have gone so far as to 
suggest Ghent, Bruges, and Saint-Omer ! as having 
been Csesar's port. 

Scaliger asserts that " those who cannot see that 
only Boulogne could possibly be the real Portus Itius, 
must be mad," and perhaps he goes a little too far in 
the warmth of his assertion : " Delirant qui Iccium 
Portum aliud esse volunt a Navali Bononiensi," but 
we must remember that, from the sixteenth to the seven- 
teenth century, many other scholars concluded in favour 
of Boulogne, such as, for instance, Paul Merula, Casaubon, 
Welser, Bergier, Cluvier, Aubert Le Mire, Bertius and 

Among the Belgians, Father Walstelain and Abbe 
Manu also came to the same conclusion ; while in Eng- 
land Lewin * and John Dougall f have both energetically 
supported Boulogne's claim. 

Besides, was Caesar's starting point really a port, 
in our acceptance of the word ? By referring to the 

* "The Invasion of Britain by Julius Ca3sar," 2nd edition, by Thomas 

f Observations on the Port of Gaul from which Cassar sailed on his expe- 
dition against Britain. 


Commentaries, we find the word " portus " used, not 
" pontus." And a cove, or bay, is not a port ; it is for 
this reason that we do not agree with the opinion ex- 
pressed by various ingenious archaeologists, that Wissant 
is the historical spot we refer to. 

It is true, that in a " Map of Gaul under Julius Caesar," 
the Portus Itius, written in full, is marked in the bay of 
Wissant. But perhaps it is not generally known that 
this topography of " Gaul under Julius Caesar " was 
published in the reign of Napoleon III. 

Besides, the commissioners who drew up the map, at 
the request of the sovereign, merely repeated an error 
that was based on a dissertation published by M. de 
Saulcy,* president of the commission, and it is this 
very work which M. Haignere strove for many years 
to refute, in the interests of historical truth. 

As a matter of fact, Wissant is the only locality that 
can contest, with any appearance of probability, the 
honour of having been Caesar's port, before it became 
Napoleon's, in 1803. 

The first thing that strikes one, on referring to the 
Commentaries, is that the place Caesar chose for em- 
barking his forces was " the shortest passage thence to 
Britain," " quod inde erat brevissimus in Britanniam 

Every Latin scholar knows that " brevissimus " means 
" very short " as well as " most short " ; now the point of 
nearest approach for a fleet is necessarily the nearest 
point at which it can concentrate, and certainly not the 
headland that juts out farthest into the sea ; and, in 
fact, as I have already said, it was from a port that 
Caesar sailed, for he writes " Labienus was instructed 
to guard the port." f 

* Campaigns of Julius Caesar. 
t Ut portus tueretur. 


And of course it would require an important harbour 
to shelter a fleet of 800 ships. 

In Caesar's time, as at the time of Napoleon, a port 
was necessary for the collecting of ships, and also for 
protecting them against storms and the Channel currents ; 
and for this same reason a similar shelter was necessary 
for landing the army in Britain : accordingly we find 
Caesar seeking which would be the most convenient 
port after the passage. 

While Gesoriacum (Boulogne) was already an im- 
portant and famous port, Wissant, on the contrary, 
was nothing more than what it is now, a small bay 
without any protection. 

It is true that from the eleventh to the fourteenth 
century, there was a considerable amount of sea-traffic 
at Wissant, but in order to judge of Caesar's enterprise 
we must only think of what Wissant was at the time 
of the Roman occupation, and not what it became in 
the Middle Ages. 

Let us add that those who believe the shortest route 
across the Channel to be the one at right angles to the 
coasts, forget that this only applies in steam navigation, 
which enables ships to cut through the strongest currents 
by means of their powerful machinery. 

Then if Gesoriacum,* the ancient name of Boulogne, 
was really Caesar's Portus Itius, people may say, how 
was it that the same town was known by two different 
names ? To this we would reply that Lutetia and 

* For several centuries Boulogne was called Gesoriacum. Gesoriac was a 
small island at the mouth of the Liane, on which was established the seaport 
which is mentioned by various historians during the first three centuries. 
Bononia was the Upper Town, the citadel. Eumenius, the last writer who 
mentioned Gesoriacum, makes use of the term concurrently with that of 
Bononia to indicate the same town. The map of Poutinger mentions " Geso- 
riago, quod nunc Bononia," and an anonymous author of the fourth century 
relates that Constantine the Great came in 306 to " Bononia, which was 
formerly called Gesoriacum by the Gauls." 


Paris were not two different cities. But the question is 
even simpler than this ; Gesoriacum, according to 
Ptolemy, was the name of the town, and Itius the name 
of the promontory or cape, which formerly stretched far 
out into the sea. By degrees, the headland crumbled 
away with the action of the sea. 

And yet there is at Wissant a small entrenchment 
called Caesar's Camp. 

The eminent Boulonnais, Mariette, once wrote a 
letter to M. Bouillet, on the subject of this entrenchment, 
in which he clearly proves that the Roman origin of the 
so-called Caesar's Camp at Wissant, is not acceptable 
in theory. Indeed, how would it have been possible to 
encamp the 11,000 men of Caesar's expeditionary force, 
and the still larger forces of the second expedition, 
together with 4,000 horses and the military baggage, 
in fortifications just large enough to protect 500 
men ? 

And besides, at the. time that excavations and re- 
searches were made, it was at Boulogne and not at Wissant 
that many Roman objects were found. The Roman 
remains, presented by M. Haignere to the Boulogne 
Museum, were all found in the immediate surroundings 
of Boulogne, such as Val St. Martin, Brecquerecque, 
the banks of the Liane, Capecure and Chatillon, which 
localities are known to have been occupied by Caesar's 
soldiers ; while, except for a few insignificant objects, 
the ancient remains discovered at Wissant only date 
from the fourteenth century, when the relative prosperity 
of the little town was at its height. Only quite recently, 
in May, 1906, two workmen employed in the new dock 
at Boulogne, found a gold medal, bearing the effigy of 
Carinus it is supposed with the date 183 B.C. It 
was discovered in the sand. 

Another argument taken from Caesar's text would 


prove that the ancestors of the Boulonnais saw the 
silver eagles of the Roman legions " aquilse argenteae," 
eighteen centuries before Napoleon's golden eagles 

In the Commentaries, the distance is estimated at 
thirty thousand paces * (circiter millium passuum, xxx). 
Reckoning by kilometres we find that Wissant was 
situated about 24,000 Roman paces from the English 
coast, while Boulogne is 32,000 distant from the nearest 
English point. 

Lastly, there is another argument ; if the ancient 
port of Boulogne is not the Portus Itius, then it must 
be admitted that Caesar did not choose the most important 
port along the coast. 

Yet Gesoriacum was looked upon as such, for in 
the year 83, that is, only shortly before Caesar's tinie, 
Pomponius Mela wrote : " There is no more important 
port than Gesoriacum." f 

The ancient authors state unanimously that there 
was but " one important port " in the land of the Morini. 
Polybius and Strabo agree on this point with Pomponius 

Gesoriacum was so undoubtedly the port from which 
to sail for the British Isles, that Pliny describes it as 
" portus Morinorum britannicus." 

The foregoing details will explain how it was that 
Napoleon, while at the Chateau du Pont-de-Briques, 
studied the Commentaries, which gave him information 
of the greatest value. 

For Caesar's work informed Napoleon : 

That on the date corresponding to August 26th, B.C., 

* The Roman passus was not merely a pace (gradus), a " passus " in- 
cluded the distance covered by the motion of both legs. The passus, or 
double pace, was equal to five feet, or Im48 cent, the result is that 30,000 
Roman paces are equal to 44 or 45 kilometres. 

t " Nee portu quern Gesoriacum vocant quidquam habet notius." 


Caesar had succeeded- in operating in the Channel with 
a fleet of as many as 800 ships. 

That he had found means of carrying war up the 
Thames (ad flumen Tamicin) though ignorant of the 
country (ignotis locis). 

That, in spite of obstacles of all kinds, he was able 
to effect the crossing in ten hours. 

That the transports, which were heavily laden, took 
fifteen hours to arrive at the same result. 

That in order to surprise the enemy, and to mask 
his movements as long as possible, Caesar had set sail 
at midnight, so as to sight Britain between nine and ten 
o'clock in the morning. 

That, finding the coast of Britain lined with 
troops on the watch, the conqueror had been com- 
pelled to wait till four o'clock before he attempted to 

That the access had been very much impeded by 
a system of defence, consisting of sharp stakes fixed 
into the bed of the river and hidden under water (sub 
aqua defixae sudes flumine tegebantur). 

Finally, that, as the Roman galleys had too deep a 
draught to admit of the troops being landed on the beach, 
the Roman soldiers had been forced to wade up to their 
shoulders in the water to reach the land, " capite solo 
ex aqua." 

We can understand from this, the reason that Bona- 
parte and Admiral Bruix attached so much importance 
to the construction of flat-bottomed boats. The text 
of " De Bello Gallico," indeed, had taught them what 
had been the chief difficulty in landing on the foreign 
shores, " summa difficult as, quod naves propter magni- 
tudinem, nisi in alto constitui non poterant." 

But the Commentaries also, and especially, revealed 
to them that the valour of the Roman legions surmounted 


all obstacles, and that after a struggle which lasted but 
four days, the Britons had to sue for peace. 

How natural that Napoleon should dream of accom- 
plishing once, what the great Roman commander had 
succeeded in performing twice ! 



Modern Praams or Galleys Gunboats and Shallops Ex-Galley 
Slaves in Boulogne Retrospect on the System of Convicts 
on Board the Galleys The " Nutshells "State of Steam 
Navigation at that Period Fulton. 

THE expedition against England necessitated the em- 
ployment of such a large number of boats (2,000 were 
required) that they began by utilising even those that 
were of special build and purpose, appropriating them to 
such and such services, as might be required. Shallops, 
bomb-ships, despatch boats, caiques, fishing sloops, 
transports, gunboats, praams and sailing packets, were 
all repaired and fitted out. 

Decres, the Minister of Marine, who had been granted 
a credit of 400 million by the Government, applied him- 
self especially to the construction of gunboats, flat- 
bottomed gunboats, shallops, and praams. 

I am indebted to the kindness of an expert, M. Clerc- 
Rampal, for the following notes on the characteristics 
of the different boats that formed the flotilla. 

Praams : flat-bottomed boats, made for beaching, 
very solidly constructed, with three keels. They were 
in use before 1805. Dimensions of the praam Foudroy- 
ante,* for instance : Total length, 35 m. 32 ; width, 
9 m. 67 ; depth, 2 m. 60 ; draught, i m. 96 light, and 

* The model is in the Museum of the Louvre (Room 3). 


2 m. 50 when laden. Armament: 20 guns of 36" 
in battery, a 1 2-inch mortar on deck. Hold, capable 
of accommodating 50 horse, 50 sailors. Artillery worked 
by army gunners. 

Gunboats (model in Museum, Room No. 7). Small 
brigs, length 24 m. 70 ; width, 5 m. 47 ; depth, i m. 70. 
Twenty-two oars on each side, worked by soldiers. 
One gun of 24" or 18", and one gun of 8" or 6". 

Flat-bottomed Gunboats. Lugger rigged, 3 guns of 
24" or of 18", and swivel guns. One lieutenant in 
command, 3 non-commissioned officers, 15 sailors, 43 

Shallops. Large boats, sometimes clincher- worked, 
26 m. long, 4 m. 50 wide, 20 oars. Flat-bottomed, sails 
like ship's boats. Smaller shallops were 17 m. to 22 m. 
long, 3 m. to 3 m. 36 wide, with 14 to 18 oars a side. 
Armament : 12 swivel guns. 

Caiques. They in no way resembled the boats of 
that name at Constantinople ; they were " tartans," 
with lateen sails, and carried one gun of 4" and one 
howitzer of 8". 

All these boats, save the praams and bombships, 
which already existed, were constructed in various ports 
from the designs of the engineer, Sane, who was then 
inspector-general of naval engineers. 

We must mention here at once, so as not to return 
to it again, that the flotilla was never intended to operate 
alone in Napoleon's scheme ; the French squadrons 
were to take an important part in protecting the flotilla, 
and making a diversion at an opportune moment ; 
but Bonaparte, of course, was particularly careful to 
say nothing about this, since his only chance of success 
lay in taking England by surprise. The flat-bottomed 
boats were intended to transport to the enemy's country 
the soldiers who were to fight on land. 


On July 3rd, 1804, Admiral Bruix formed his 
squadrons in good order, and they were all numbered 
and in readiness to sail ; 700 boats at Boulogne, 290 
at Etaples, 340 at Wimereux, and 437 at Ambleteuse. 
On the 2ist of the same month, when Napoleon con- 
templated the scene in the port and roadstead of Bou- 
logne, he exclaimed, " We are going to seek a new Salamis 
in the North Sea ! " 

Every available boat, therefore, was utilised ; but, 
as we may see from the official correspondence, the 
especial concern of the commanders was to have flat- 
bottomed boats, and to employ rowers to facilitate 
the passage through currents and against the wind. 
These two requirements were essential by reason of the 
following considerations. 

No deep-draught boats could effect a landing by 
surprise on any part of the enemy's coast. It was the 
very size of the ships, according to Caesar, which was 
his chief difficulty in landing on the coast of Britain ; 
while, on the other hand, it was entirely owing to the 
oars that he was able to execute his enterprise. 

Csesar adds that he sailed far beyond the point at 
which he had intended to land, his fleet being taken by 
the wind towards the north. And therefore Bonaparte 
and the Admiralty came to the conclusion that it was 
essential (i) to have boats that could be beached with- 
out any warning ; (2) to have oarsmen capable of 
directing their boats and ensuring their landing on 
the enemy's shores, in spite of contrary winds and 

It seemed necessary, therefore, to make a practical 
study of the working and organisation of the old galleys ; 
and on this subject, none were better able to give 
information than the former galley-slaves themselves, 
not only upon their method of working, but also as to 


the advantages and disadvantages in connection with 
their use. 

Accordingly, Napoleon and Bruix were not satisfied 
with making inquiries of the naval engineers, but person- 
ally questioned several convicts, whose long experience 
placed them in a position to make practical suggestions. 
One day, several ex-convicts were seen to arrive at the 
admiral's pavilion ; they had been chosen among the 
more intelligent, and were sent by the Minister of Marine 
to the two great organisers of the flotilla. At the ex- 
piration of their term, these representatives of the 
system of galley-slaves (then but recently abolished) 
had become oar-makers (remolats), coopers (boutares), 
and skilful carpenters (maitres de la hache)* 

Let us reflect, for an instant, over this scene, which 
is something of a les'son to those among us who care 
to look into the nature of men. On one side we see 
Napoleon and Bruix, both illustrious one as the chief 
of an army, the other as a seaman questioning pro- 
fessional galley-slaves, learning from them, consulting 
them without any false pride, in order to obtain informa- 
tion that might lead to the improvement of the flotilla, 
to the better fitting up of the modern galleys in the 
dockyards, and to the saving of labour for the oars- 
men. On the other side, these convicts offering in- 
formation acquired during their period of terrible ex- 
piation, in order that they too might serve their country, 
and add to the glory of the French flag. 

There is something touching in the contrast between 
the two parties, suggesting, as it does, a sentiment of 
mutual sympathy, inspired -by patriotism ; for if the 
chiefs saw nothing derogatory in communicating with 
these men, it was because the sufferings of galley-slaves, 
though necessary, certainly called for sympathy. 

* Terms used on the galleys. 


And it is some comfort to think that, though the 
galleys were formerly the instruments of punishment, 
they were also, in some cases, the means of social re- 
demption for the convicts. The life on the galleys was 
terrible beyond belief, as we may see by various docu- 
ments of unquestionable authority. 

" Life on the galleys is a hell," Captain Barras de la 
Penne writes in the eighteenth century. " The doleful 
lamentations of the ship's company, the terrible shouts 
of the sailors, the horrible howling of the convicts, the 
creaking of the timbers, mingled with the rattling of 
chains and the roar of the tempest, produce a feeling 
akin to terror in the stoutest heart. Lightning, rain, 
hail the usual accompaniments of violent storms 
and waves dashing spray over the deck, all add to the 
horror of the situation. Though convicts are not much 
given to piety as a rule, you would see some of them 
pray to God, and others make vows to all the saints ; 
while others even attempt to make a sort of pilgrimage 
along the ship's sides, in spite of the motion of the ship. 
They would do better not to forget God and His saints 
the moment danger is past. Calm weather also has its 
disadvantages. Bad smells then become so overpowering 
that it is impossible to get away from them, in spite 
of the quantity of snuff one is obliged to consume from 
morning till night. On a galley, too, there are always 
certain little insects that torment the inmates. Flies 
reign supreme in the daytime, bugs at night, fleas and 
lice both day and night." 

It seems hardly credible that the galley-slaves, from 
the sixteenth century onward, were always kept chained 
to their seats ; yet this is the fact. " The convicts of 
the gang on the right were riveted by the left leg, and 
those of the left gang were chained by the right leg. 
At least four men had to find room in a space no larger 


than i m. 25 ; they placed themselves so that the feet 
of two men faced in one direction, and those of the other 
two in the other." 

The following is an extract from a narrative by an 
unfortunate convict, J. Marteille de Bergerac,* who 
describes, with the exactness of personal experience, the 
way in which the oars were worked on the State galleys. 

" All the convicts are chained in sixes on each 
bench. The benches are placed at a distance of four 
feet from each other, and are covered with a sack filled 
with wool, over which they throw a sheep-skin reaching 
down to the foot-bench. The overseer, or master, of 
the gang stands in the stern, near the captain, to take 
his orders. Two warders are stationed, one amidship, 
the other in the prow. Each of them is armed with a 
whip, which is used without pity on the bare backs of 
the poor wretches. When the captain gives the command 
to row, the overseer transmits the order with a silver 
whistle hanging from his neck. This signal is repeated 
by the warders, and the rowers immediately strike the 
water all together fifty oars like one. Imagine six men 
chained to one bench, one foot on the stretcher, the 
other raised on the bench in front of them, holding an 
oar of enormous weight, stretching their bodies towards 
the stern, and their arms spread out so as to push the 
oar over the backs of those that are in front of them, 
and who are in the same attitude ; holding their oars 
thus forward, they raise the end they have in their 
hands, so as to dip the other in the sea. Then they 
throw themselves backwards by dropping on to the 
seat which sways beneath their weight. Sometimes a 
galley-slave has to row for ten or twelve hours, sometimes 
even for twenty, at a stretch, without ceasing. The 
warders, or some of the sailors, come round now and 

* Died in 1777 at Culembourg. 


then, and put pieces of bread, soaked in wine, into the 
mouths of the unfortunate rowers to keep them from 
fainting. Should this happen, the captain shouts to 
the overseer to flog harder. If a man swoons over his 
oar (which frequently happens), he is flogged till he is 
given up for dead, when they fling his body overboard." 

At the time of the First Empire, however, it was 
no longer a question of penalising galley-slaves, but of 
employing brave men as willing rowers even the grena- 
diers, we shall see, were to practise the handling of oars 
and therefore the chiefs studied the methods pertaining 
to the old galleys in order to diminish the hard work, 
by increasing, as much as possible, the number of oars- 

Among the plans under consideration at the Admiralty 
for the transformation and construction of flotilla boats, 
the type of the old Greek and Roman one-bank-of-oars 
galley was especially studied ; then the question was 
raised as to whether the system of boats having a double- 
bank of oars might not be applied in a certain measure. 
As for the famous " triremes," or galleys with three tiers 
of oars, of the class that won the battle of Salamis 
for the Athenians, they undoubtedly had the advantage 
of great rapidity, but were of too high a freeboard. 

The seventeenth-century galley was a vessel of low 
freeboard, and of great length, in contradistinction to 
the round, or high freeboard, vessels. It was long and 
slender in shape, and measured, as a rule, 46 m. 
from stem to stern, 5 m. 80 in width, with a depth of 
2 m. 30. The oars were 12 m. long. 

They could carry about 400 men, huddled together, 
with provisions for two months, and 23 tons of 
ballast ; their draught was not more than one metre. 
They carried one gun of 36", two of 8", two of 4", 
and twelve swivel guns fixed on the gunwale. 


What with their oars and the sail they carried, the 
old galleys were very fast-going ships. 

Considering what the terrible conditions of life were 
on the galleys, it is hardly to be wondered at that there 
were so few voluntary rowers ; only the Neapolitans 
and Spaniards, when pressed by extreme poverty, would 
ever consent to become " willing oarsmen " (buonevoglie). 
The official number of galley-slaves in December, 
1676, amounted only to 4,710. 

The insufficiency of this effective, inasmuch as it 
concerned the strength of the French navy, was a source 
of anxiety to Colbert, who deplored the indolence of 
the French magistrates in not keeping up a sufficient 
supply of convicts.* 

And an over-zealous captain, writing in defence of 
the galleys, excludes all humanity in his excess of blind 
patriotism : " The moment that clemency is brought 
into the question, all hope is lost, and navigation by 
means of rowing is done for." 

In 1839 Commodore Napier is known to have said : 
" Yes, it was horrible, but it had its advantages." 

The judges, therefore, were instructed to substitute 
servitude on the galleys for sentences of death, mutilation, 
or fine ; and they would even press into the service 
any vagabonds they could lay hands on. 

The ordinary diet of convicts was 35 ounces 
of biscuit, and as much water as they required. The 
small allowance of meat that was sometimes given them, 
was salted and generally bad, while the water was brack- 
ish. They slept in the open, leaning over their oars 
or lying between the benches. Once a year they were 
given a great-coat, a jacket, a cap, two shirts, and two 

* In the seventeenth century France was obliged to purchase Turkish 
slaves for whom she paid 400 to 450 silver " livres " sterling. These men, 
inured to fatigue, tall, and strongly built, were preferable to all others for 
occupying the very hardest posts on the galleys. 


pairs of drawers. Their heads and beards were generally 
shaven, but not their moustaches. 

The convicts not only had a language of their own, 
but were prohibited from making use of the ordinary 
expressions of joy and exclamations sanctioned by popular 
usage. For instance, if a person of distinction came 
to visit the galley, the convicts were only allowed to 
salute him or her with three rounds of " Hou ! hou ! 
hou ! " shouted in chorus. 

Madame de Grignan, having had occasion to visit 
the royal galleys at Marseilles, alludes to this custom 
in one of her letters : "I am still quite deaf from the 
roar of the cannon, and the shouts of ' Hou ! ' from the 

And Madame de Sevigne * makes the following 
observation, for which we cannot forgive her : " I should 
very much like to see that kind of pandemonium . . . 
men groaning night and day beneath the weight of their 
chains." And yet the wretched convicts still found some 
means of amusement in their awful abode. But what 
amusement ! 

The author must be forgiven for mentioning this real- 
istic but authentic detail. The convicts, who were covered 
with vermin, used to collect them and put them into 
little paper cones, and when a visitor came amongst them 
they would blow a cloud of these repulsive insects on 
the stranger. 

It must be admitted that, except for a few chance 
visitors who really took a kindly interest in the fate 
of these poor creatures, most of those who came to see 
the galleys were animated by a curiosity very little to 
their credit. 

* It was Mme. de Sevigne" who also wrote, in her flippant manner, after 
Mme. de Brinvilliers was burnt at the stake, " the ashes of her small body were 
thrown to the winds, so that we actually breathe her ! " 


Bonaparte had been able to judge, on one particular 
occasion, of the great advantages offered by the use 
of the oar in certain naval manoeuvres, both for acceler- 
ating the movement, and especially for rapid evolution 
within a small compass. 

When on board the Orient on his way to Egypt, he 
was able to ascertain the extraordinary results that 
could be obtained from this form of navigation results, 
unfortunately, too frequently achieved through the 
merciless use of the quarter-master's lash. 

Napoleon, of course, was far from sharing the senti- 
ments of Captain Pantero Pantera, who declared that 
" the overseer should use his bludgeon as freely as his 
whistle " ; but he reckoned on obtaining the same 
good results by appealing to the devotion and patriotism 
of his soldiers. 

But we can well imagine how much self-devotion 
was required on the part of the soldiers to induce them 
to take the place of those who were still called " galley- 
birds," since " handling an oar " in those days was 
equivalent to the more modern treadmill. 

Admiral Bruix had recourse to former convicts also, 
for the purpose of learning something of their language ; 
for many of the boats that were being made to serve 
for the flotilla, came from far-distant dockyards, and 
some of the crews of native or local sailors had been 
purposely retained on board, for the sake of initiating 
the new members of the crew in the handling proper 
to each class of ship, as the rigging and sails differed 
very materially one from another. 

But we must return to the scene of the admiral's 
pavilion, where Napoleon and Bruix were interviewing 
the ex-galley-slaves. When the meeting was over, the 
Emperor went out, accompanied by Bruix, and 
invited the latter to go with their visitors on a round 


of inspection to the Capecure dockyards, and also to 
those on the banks of the Liane. " As for me," he 
added, " I should not be able to make anything of it 
all ; and as for my soldiers, they would be utterly 

When we consider for a moment the many complex 
theories found in treatises on naval construction, if 
only, say, for the constitution of an oar namely, the 
amount of resistance of water against the blade, the 
man's effort on the handle, the conditions in which the 
oar is placed, the position of the thole-pin in the row- 
lock, the form and direction of which can be modified 
according to the type of construction, etc. we can well 
believe that Bruix, shrewd as he was, found means of 
gaining a great deal of information from his strange 
companions, amongst whom, by the bye, were two ex- 
convicts who had formerly occupied a high social posi- 
tion for intelligence and learning are not incompatible 
with perversity, it would seem, in certain debased 

During the different periods of the concentration 
on the Boulonnais shores, the number of ships varied 
considerably. However, we can describe, without 
going into technical details, the several elements 
of which the flotilla was composed at different 

Thus on January 3ist, 1804, the total number of 
warships for Boulogne and Etaples alone, amounted 
to 281, together with 290 transports, making a total of 
571 ships.* 

On August 8th, 1805, Lafond, chief of the staff, 
compiled another catalogue, from which I quote a few 
figures in order to give an idea of the composition of 
the flotilla. 

* Estimated by Lafond, Chief of the Staff. 


Boulogne. Wimereux. Etaples. 

Praams .... 14 

Bombships ... 3 

Packet-boats ... 9 I 

Flat-bottomed gunboats . 187 32 36 

Gunboats . . . 221 36 108 

Corvettes ... 2 2 

Shallops .... 239 72 97 

Caiques . . . . 19 

694 142 242 

Transports at Boulogne alone. 

Artillery ..../.. 36 

Remounts ...... 44 

Staff and Army baggage .... 72 

Non-classed ...... 23 

Newfoundland Boats ..... 73 

Whalers 188 


Altogether, at that date, there were 1,153 vessels 
at Boulogne, and according to this catalogue the total 
number of boats at Boulogne, Ambleteuse, Wimereux, 
Etaples, Calais, Dunkirk, and Ostend, amounted to 2,343 
boats, capable of transporting 167,590 men and 9,149 

No doubt Napoleon's galleys, praams, and flat- 
bottomed boats were a cause of great anxiety to England, 
in spite of the material obstacles that stood in the way 
of the realisation of his threatened invasion ; but sup- 
posing Napoleon, instead of being limited to his poor 
little sailing boats, for transporting his incomparable 
soldiers across the Channel, had had at his command 
the marvellous resources of steam navigation which 


" defies the fury of Eolus and the dangerous currents 
of Neptune," what might not have been the result ? 

One evening, after dining at the pavilion with the 
officers of the different services which was one of his 
methods for keeping an eye over the proper execution 
of his orders he sent his valet Constant to his other 
quarters at Pont-de-Briques, to fetch the letters and 
despatches that were awaiting him there. The errand 
necessitated a good hour's hard riding, and while waiting 


(From Map 

in the War Office Records.) 

for his messenger's return, Napoleon opened the window 
and pointed the large telescope in the direction of Dover. 
After a while he was heard to utter these words in a 
tone of deep conviction : " Yes ; a favourable wind, 
and thirty-six hours ! " 

Constant arrived soon after, bringing, together with 
other packets forwarded by the Minister of the Interior, 
a large bundle of papers, bearing Fulton's signature on 
the last sheet. It was a Memoir written by the great 
engineer, who gave such extraordinary impetus to 
steam navigation. As his proposals had met, so far, 


with nothing but refusal in England, he did not hesitate 
to make the following offer to Napoleon : 

" SIRE, 

" The sea which separates you from your enemy, 
gives him immense advantage over you. Wind and 
storms assist him in turn, and enable him to insult you 
with impunity, and to defy you from his island, which 
is at present inaccessible to you. I can remove the 
obstacles which protect him, and notwithstanding his 
fleets, I can transport your armies to his territory, at 
any time, and within a few hours, without having to 
fear storms or wait for a favourable wind." 

The Emperor at once wrote from Boulogne to the 
Minister of the Interior, M. de Champagny, directing 
an immediate inquiry into the new system of the in- 
ventor : 


" I have just read Citizen Fulton's proposition, 
which you have delayed too long in sending me, in- 
asmuch as it is capable of changing the whole face of 
the world. At all events, I wish you to submit it imme- 
diately for examination to a special committee, which 
you will select from among the different bodies of the 
Institut. It is there that scientific Europe must look 
for judges competent to decide this question. A great 
truth, a palpable, physical truth, is now before my eyes ; 
it remains for these gentlemen to see it, and to try to 
grasp it. As soon as their report is drawn up, they 
will send it to you, and you will forward it to me. En- 
deavour to get this affair settled within eight days, 
for I am impatient. And now, M. de Champagny, I 
pray that God may have you in His safe keeping. 

" From my Camp at Boulogne, July 2ist, 1804." 


Napoleon, therefore, cannot be accused of having 
failed to recognise the great merit of Fulton's invention. 
The only mistake he made was in relying too exclusively 
on the judgment of others in this particular cir- 

It was also while he was at Boulogne that Napoleon 
received the deplorable report of the scientific men, 
who had been commissioned to inquire into Fulton's 
invention and pronounce a decision as to its worth. 

When the question had been under consideration 
for two months, the commissioners forwarded a state- 
ment of their formal opinion. The proposition was 
unanimously rejected ! 

Indeed, the inventor was styled a " visionary," and 
his discovery was looked upon as a " mad scheme," 
" a gross error," and a " simple absurdity." 

There was no going against the decided opinion 
of a whole body of specialists of such unquestionable 
authority, without incurring the reproach of being pre- 
sumptuous oneself. 

Napoleon therefore was compelled to give way, 
owing to the blind and systematic opposition which the 
scheme had raised. He himself believed, however, that 
the discovery was not only practical, but full of portent 
for the future ; so much so that, after reading the report, 
the Emperor remarked, sadly and thoughtfully : " Then 
I must have read wrongly or else I was mistaken." 
Then, tapping his forehead, he added : " And yet Fulton 
has something in his brain, I will answer for that. Steam- 
pumps, after all, are nothing more than a motive power 
produced by steam. The man must be right when he 
asserts that this force can be used for other things be- 
sides raising buckets of water out of a river. Ah ! " he 
added, clenching his hand and getting animated, " I 
ought to have seen this man before. His discovery 


appears to me to be the very thing I want. However, 
it is no use thinking of it any more." 

But the fact remains that we cannot reflect, without 
bitterness of spirit, on the bold assertion of these scient- 
ists, whose advice, perhaps, was really influenced by 
the fear of honouring an invention which was to make 
an enemy illustrious. Fulton, it is true, was an American 
subject, born in Pennsylvania ; but as he had offered his 
services to England first where, by the bye, he had 
already introduced several other inventions he was 
looked upon, amongst most people, as an Englishman. 

If this is so I mean, if the commissioners were really 
influenced by such a motive, when they so carelessly 
set aside the proposed invention then they showed 
proof of a very short-sighted patriotism. 

For, little more than ten years after they had sent 
their unfavourable report upon Fulton's offer, the con- 
queror of Austerlitz, now vanquished at Waterloo, 
concealing Jlis grief beneath an impassive exterior, was 
sitting on the deck of the Northumberland, on October 
lyth, 1815, surrounded by braided jailors that is to 
say, by English officers, who never let him out of their 

It seemed as though they feared the eagle might 
take flight across the ocean, in spite of broken wings, 
and soar again over the land of France. 

Napoleon was leaning on the fore-part of the vessel, 
and keenly scanning the horizon to try and discern the 
rocks of St. Helena which, Admiral Cockburn had an- 
nounced that morning, would soon be in sight when 
suddenly he saw a long trail of dense smoke pouring 
out of a sort of " huge chimney." 

" What is that ? " he asked, fixing his spyglass on 
the object. 

" It is a steamboat," replied the naval lieutenant, 


who probably did not realise the effect his words were 
likely to produce. 

" A steamboat ! " exclaimed Napoleon, filled with 

" Yes, the Fulton" replied the officer, looking through 
his glasses. 

On hearing the name, Napoleon thrilled with excite- 
ment, and turning away from a sight that filled him 
with anger and bitter regrets, merely put his hand up 
to his eyes, exclaiming : " My God ! " Then he walked 
to the further end of the deck, where he sat down, and 
bowing his head in his hands, remained immovable for 
a considerable time. 

Recovering himself after a while, his thoughts turned 
to the shores of Boulogne, where he had given credence 
to the fatal report of the commissioners, and starting 
up suddenly, he paced to and fro among the officers, 
saying, in a tone of agitation : "I had the secret 
of that invention in my very hands, gentlemen, and 
if I let it slip, it was because I deferred to the 
judgment of others, instead of relying upon my own." 
And looking round once more towards the quarter 
where the black streak stood out against the blue sky, 
waving over the white foam left in the ship's wake, 
he uttered an exclamation in which all the bitterness 
of his soul was summed up : " Go and put your faith 
in wiseacres ! " 

And, indeed, no severe condemnation was ever more 

In foreign countries, and even in France, Fulton is 
looked upon as the inventor of steam navigation. But 
we must point out that a Frenchman (of Franche- 
Comte), the Marquis de Jouffroy de la Pompe, had, as 
early as 1776 navigated a real steamboat on the Doubs 
river. It was then called a " pyroscaphe," and the 


principle on which it was based was originated by Denis 

An official report of the Lyons Academy states that 
in 1783 Jouffroy made some decisive experiments on the 
Saone with a steamer 130 feet long, and paddle-wheels 
14 feet in diameter. This fact is mentioned merely 
because there is a point of interest attaching to it that 
concerns French national history. The report of these 
experiments bears, among other signatures, the name of 
Fulton, who happened to be in Lyons just at that time ; 
and besides this, Fulton wrote an autograph letter, in 
which he honestly acknowledged the claim of French 
" pyroscaphes " to priority of invention. 

It must be well understood that the idea of making 
use of a multiplicity of little boats " nutshells," as 
they were termed in England for Napoleon's purposes, 
would have proved an eminently practical scheme if 
the Admiralty had been able, by anticipating the use 
that was subsequently made of it, to adopt steam power 
sufficiently quickly to serve the naval purposes. 

The term " nutshells " was also currently used in 
Paris to indicate the boats of the flotilla, for the Duchesse 
d'Abrantes says in her Memoirs : 

" One day, when Brunet was acting in some play 
I forget which he ate some nuts, and threw the shells 
into a tub of water, after putting them into shape. 

" ' What are you doing ? ' asked the actor, who 
was following his cue. 

* I am making shallops,' replied the gay Brunet, 
who had to pay for this cutting facetiousness by being 
sent to prison for twenty-four hours under some sort 
of pretext. 

' The day after his release, the same play was again 
performed, and when Brunet came to the rejoinder in 
the dialogue, over which he had come to grief, he kept 


silent. The other actor asked him a second time what 
he was doing. Receiving no reply, he said to Brunet, 
with an air of impatience : ' You don't know, I sup- 
pose ? ' 

" ' Oh, yes, I do,' said Brunet mischievously. ' I know 
perfectly well what I am doing, only ' (lowering his 
voice), ' I am not going to say.' 

" This remark was received with shouts of laughter 
and applause from the whole house." 



Difference Between Piracy and the Right of " Giving Chase " 
Account of Prizes Captured The Boulogne Privateers, 
Gary, Pollet, and Duchenne Bucaille Brocant Inter- 
viewed by the Emperor Napoleon and the English Sloop. 

THE privateers who carried on their operations in the 
Channel during the First Republic, the Consulate, and 
the Empire, played a most important part in the 
history of the times. 

Yet we have no complete record of the remarkable 
feats that were accomplished during those memorable 
years by the seafaring men of these regions. 

I must enter into a few details concerning these 
intrepid auxiliaries, who not only helped materially in 
the organisation of the flotilla, but also served to excite 
the imagination of the soldiers by accounts of their 
marvellous exploits. 

First we must remember that a privateer is not to 
be confounded with a pirate. The latter was engaged 
in a lawless trade, attacking and pillaging indifferently 
any ship he came across ; while the privateer only 
preyed upon vessels of a nation at war with his own. 
As he was granted " letters of marque " by the head 
of the State (or permission to " pursue " the enemy), 
he was really a regular combatant, a loyal servant of 
his country, and had a claim upon public favour. 

In consequence of their exploits, a number of old 



privateers were given important posts in the RoyaJ 
Navy. It was in this way that Jean Bart, Tourville 
and Dugay-Trouin, who attained such eminence, had 
commenced by privateering with their own vessels ; 
and during the First Empire, Surcouf made a great 
reputation for himself under the same conditions. 

That is why the term " pirate," by which the priva- 
teers were first known, had formerly an honourable 
meaning which it has since lost. In the eleventh cen- 
tury the term " pirata " merely indicated a soldier of 
the sea, and the old English chronicles at the time of 
William Rufus, allude without the slightest restraint 
to the " King's pirates." 

As for the word " privateer " (corsair), applied to 
the freebooters of the sea, it seems to have been em- 
ployed for the first time in a letter by Louis XL, in 
which he says, " Certain privateer (corsair) galleys of 
the King of Aragon, our enemy and adversary, were 
always on the sea in these regions." 

In the sixteenth century, Amyot also alludes to the 
privateers and sea-robbers. At that period, the attacking 
of an enemy's ships was officially sanctioned by " letters 
of marque," registered by the Admiralty and recognised 
by various regulations, notably the one of December 
i6th, 1689. 

At the commencement of the nineteenth century, 
letters of marque were only granted to Frenchmen of 
bravery and skill, who could show a record of exceptional 
services, and on their furnishing caution money to the 
amount sometimes of 37,000 francs. The length of 
time for which a license was granted was for six, twelve, 
eighteen, and twenty-four months. 

The ship, once registered under her privateer's 
name, was not allowed to change it ; and the Com- 
missioners of Marine had to ascertain, before allowing 


her to leave the port, whether she was solidly built, 
well-rigged, fast-going, provided with efficient guns, 
pikes, boarding axes, and, in fact, all the accessories 
requisite for the purpose for which she was intended. 
In France, the regulations concerning privateering granted 
important bounties to those engaged in it. For instance, 
the privateers received 40 francs for every prisoner 
captured on a merchant ship, and from 45 to 60 francs 
for any sailor taken on a man-of-war. On the other 
hand, a captain could not abandon his prize without 
being liable to a fine of 100 francs. 

For every gun captured the crew received the follow- 
ing gratuities : no francs, 160 francs, 200 francs, for a 
gun of 4 inch calibre, according to the importance of 
the prize ; and a bounty of 160 francs, 250 -francs, or 
400 francs if the victors brought back a gun of 12". 

Sometimes the captains would ransom their prisoners, 
if they wished to do so ; but in this case they had to 
give an account of the sum thus obtained to the Com- 
missioners of Marine. 

In 1694-5, the English having bombarded the French 
ports along the Channel reducing the town of Dieppe 
almost to ashes and destroying the fortifications of 
Havre a regular army of privateers was organised on 
our coasts. They inflicted so much damage on the 
English trade that Louis XIV. was compelled, by the 
terms of the treaty of Utrecht, to destroy the harbour 
of Dunkirk. 

Under the first Republic there was much rivalry 
between Calais and Boulogne in the matter of capturing 
British ships in the Channel, whenever they had the 
chance of doing so. In spite of fireships and the guns 
of the enemy's corvettes, the " sea-dogs " did not hesi- 
tate to run alongside and capture their prizes by boarding 
them, axe in hand. 


At Boulogne-sur-Mer, the deeds of Bucaille who 
was rewarded for his bravery by the Emperor are a 
matter of tradition ; but we shall speak of him further on. 

M. H. Malo, who wrote a learned treatise on the 
subject, has given some valuable records of the doings 
of the privateers. We read, for instance, that in the 
third century Carausius,. a "sea-dog," chose Bononia 
(Boulogne) as his base for opposing the pirates coming 
from the north. At the time of the Crusades, Guinemer, 
a Boulogne seafaring man, infested the Mediterranean. 
At a later period, Eustache le Moine was given seven 
ships by John Lackland, with which he captured the 
Channel Islands. 

But privateering assumed a far more important 
character when it became a question of capturing English 
ships during the siege of Calais by Edward III. 

We have seen that the practice was continued up 
to the nineteenth century. 

Shortly before this period, Thurot, a fearless corsair 
(born in Boulogne in 1727), had performed many feats 
of daring, and his name was connected with a scheme 
for a landing in England. A brief account of this man 
is therefore appropriate. When still quite young, he 
went on board a privateer, though he had already 
qualified as an assistant surgeon. 

Soon after sailing from Dunkirk, however, he was 
captured by an English frigate and imprisoned in Ports- 
mouth ; but he did not remain there long, for " within 
a few days he succeeded in filing through his chain, 
making his escape, and taking possession of a boat, 
in which he returned to his beloved native shore." He 
then became a pilot, but soon afterwards laid aside the 
tarred coat and red cap, and became a captain. 

A graphic description of this corsair was written by 
the learned Auguste Mariette, grandson of Guillaume 


Mariette, lieutenant of the Belle-Isle, commanded by 
Thurot. The following passage is an extract : 

" The privateer Thurot, axe in hand, rushed his 
brig into the very middle of the convoy ; guns roared, 
musketry rattled, and the formidable brig, bounding 
over the waves, pursued one ship after another, in the 
midst of shots and flames, spreading death around, 
as though a very whirlwind of fire had suddenly arisen 
from the sea." 

When, in 1759, war again broke out between France 
and England, Thurot was given the command of a small 
squadron of privateers, and succeeded in capturing so 
many English ships that, as a reward for his services, 
the Minister of War, Marshal Belle-Isle, placed him in 
command of " His Majesty's corvette, La Friponne" 

Within a space of eight days, he took possession of 
a fleet of eighteen colliers, and sailed into Christiansand 
(Norway) with his prize. On leaving the port, he found 
his course obstructed by twenty ships lying in the offing. 
He therefore waited till night came on, and not only 
succeeded in avoiding the enemy, but threw his grapnel 
on two armed pinks as well. 

Thurot acquired such a reputation for heroism and 
skill, that Louis XV. once expressed a desire to 
see him. 

Accordingly, on his returning to Dunkirk, on December 
3rd, 1758, he was immediately summoned to Versailles 
by the Minister of Marine, who requested him to suggest 
some means of overcoming England. Thurot submitted 
a plan for the equipment of 50,000 men, who, by a bold 
stroke, were to effect a landing in England, and sack 
the principal towns along the coast. 

It was this scheme that Napoleon, in his turn, hoped 
to accomplish. 

On being introduced at Versailles, Thurot was " so 


much the courtier, that all the little marchionesses swore 
by the invincible corsair." 

As many as ninety-five different privateer captains, 
native of Boulogne, are recorded by name between 
1789 and 1815. 

A Memoir, written in the tenth year of the Republic 
by Masclet, the first Sub-Prefect of Boulogne, gives 
interesting information on the subject : 

" Memorandum of ships fitted out as privateers in the 
port of Boulogne from September 23rd, 1795, to May 2ist, 
1801. Number of privateers, 154 ; effective of the crews, 
5,800 ; prizes captured, 202 ; gross value of prizes, 12,928,745 
francs ; prisoners taken, 1,967 ; privateers captured by the 
enemy, 16 ; men killed or taken prisoners by the enemy, 
755 ; cost of armaments, 3,500,000 francs." 

The usual armament of a privateer, even in 1809, 
consisted of 14 guns, 76 cannon balls, 10 canister shot, 
40 muskets, 15 pistols, 7 blunderbusses, 30 sabres, 
120 pounds of bullets. 

As the allotment of bounties was proportioned to 
the number of guns carried, the privateers were in the 
habit of shipping more of them than was necessary. 
In order to put a stop to this abuse, the prefect of the 
first maritime district enacted a bye-law in August, 1808. 

The reader may remember that privateering was 
abolished by the Treaty of Paris in 1856, and mercantile 
shipping is now safe, therefore, under cover of the flag 
with the exception, of course, of contraband of war. 
Nearly every nation of the Old and New Worlds sub- 
scribed to these conditions, saving Spain, Mexico, and 
the United States. 

The author from whom I have quoted, however, 
observes that there would be nothing to prevent England 
from repudiating the treaty if it were in her interest 
to do so Lord Derby having once made a significant 


remark to the effect that " the Act of 1856 had not 
been ratified either by the Crown or the Government." 

But from the very fact of England possessing such 
an immense number of mercantile ships, it is manifest 
that she would be the first to suffer by the re-establish- 
ment of privateering. 

The reader can form some idea of the consequences 
that might occur from a return to privateering, by noting 
the fact that during the American War of Secession, 
the Sumter and Alabama captured, within a period of 
seven months, the one eighteen and the other sixty-two 
prizes, of which the hulls alone were worth twenty-five 

We need not be surprised at these figures, for in the 
period that elapsed between 1793 and 1815, the French 
privateers alone captured 10,800 English trading vessels, 
of which nearly 1,000 were taken in the year 1797, in 
the Channel waters. 

The term privateer did not apply solely to the sea- 
men who were engaged in this mode of warfare ; it 
was also used to denote the boats fitted out for this 
particular purpose, which the State considered it ex- 
pedient to utilise in the national interests, instead of 
leaving them to engage in private enterprise. On 
February 25th, 1798, the Minister of Marine issued the 
following circular : 

" It is a matter of the greatest urgency to accelerate, by 
every possible means, the fitting out of all the warships and 
transports intended for the expedition against England. 

" You have already received orders to hasten the levy- 
ing of sailors As it is to be feared, however, that 

the seafaring men, led by a thirst of gain, will serve on board 
privateers for preference . . . the executive Directory have 
decided to lay an immediate embargo on all such vessels 
now in the different ports, and on all which may return to 


port. In consequence of this order, you will be good enough, 
on receipt of this letter, to give notice to all shipowners, 
that they must deliver up the letters of marque granted to 
them for their privateers. With regard to their respective 
crews, you will ship them at once on board the State vessels." 


On March 7th, another circular was issued respecting 
the men off the privateers, whose services the Minister 
was most anxious to secure, as he considered them 
" the best of sailors." 

"It is the intention of the Directory that all French 
sailors, coming from the privateers . . . should be retained 
in the service of the Republic." 

By glancing at the accompanying illustration of a 


privateer, the reader will observe that these were by 
no means so hideous as they are often described in 
romances, but very pretty boats sometimes. 

A model of the Ruse, a Boulogne privateer rigged as 
a lugger, can be seen in the " Musee Indus triel " at 
Boulogne ; it was constructed from an engraving, 
dated 1806, belonging to M. Charles Bellet. 

The speed of a privateer, rigged as a lugger, was 
much the same as that of a frigate ship-rigged ; she 
could sail on an average eight to nine knots, and was 
more rapidly handled than a frigate. When the priva- 
teer was chased by a frigate, she tacked and sailed as 
near the wind as possible, at an angle of 39 to 40 ; 
while the frigate was obliged to make an angle of 66. 
This enabled the privateer to gain time and escape. 

The following accounts, taken from ships' logs, will 
give a very good idea of the manner in which the priva- 
teers operated : 

" At the beginning of January, 1797, a Boulogne privateer, 
l y Unite, a large coasting lugger of six guns of 4," commanded 
by Captain Cary, was steering her course from the English 
coast towards Boulogne, with a sloop in tow, captured the 
day before, when she sighted an English ship bearing down 
upon her with all sails set. It was the Swan, a revenue cutter, 
of 14 caronades, and a numerous crew. Captain Cary, recog- 
nising the inequality of strength, abandoned his prize and 
sheered off ; but he soon realised that he had no chance of 
escaping. The cutter followed rapidly, and hoping to retard 
her progress, Cary tacked towards her, and ordered the 
gunners to point at the masts. The cutter was still gain- 
ing on him rapidly when the engagement began, and for 
three hours the two ships fired from alongside. The situa- 
tion had now reached a critical point, when Captain Cary, 
addressing his men, exclaimed : 

" ' We have no middle course, boys ; choose either to 
board the Englishman, or rot in the pontoons.' 


" ' Board her ! Board her ! ' the crew shouted to a man. 

" A turn of the helm brought the Unite alongside ; the 
Frenchmen, armed with axes and sabres, sprang on board 
and slaughtered every man they came upon. A furious 
melee raged on deck : the English captain fell with six of his 
men. Our sailors made such a vigorous onslaught that the 
English crew surrendered. Finally, Captain Cary ordered 
the rigging and torn sails to be repaired, and made for 
Havre, which he reached on the following day with his 

The Directory sent him an Axe of Honour for this 
brilliant exploit. 

The following is another narrative taken from the 
ship's log : 

" The privateer Le Wimereux was at anchor (on the 
I5th Nivose, XIII.) near the coast of St. Valery-en-Caux, 
when a powerful English sloop and a lugger sailed past, 
keeping the coast so close aboard that they took cognisance 
of the French ship. It was a dark night, and the English 
were able to come quite close to the privateer without being 
seen. Captain Pollet, commanding the Wimereux, was still 
on deck. He hailed the ship as soon as he sighted her. The 
reply was sent in perfect French : ' Dieppe fisherman ! ' 
' Come on, to avoid my sending aboard ! ' Without vouch- 
safing an answer, the English sloop advanced on the priva- 
teer, and suddenly a sentry discovered two shallops doing 
the same. ' To arms ! To arms ! ' shouted the captain. 
. . . The sailors, starting from their sleep, leapt out of 
their hammocks and rushed on deck. The English crew 
were all at their posts, their grapnel was fastened to the 
privateer, while the two shallops boarded her fore and aft. 
The stubborn and sanguinary fight which ensued lasted for 
nearly an hour, when the English were swept from the decks, 
and the survivors put off in their boats. One of the boats, 
struck by grape shot, sank near the privateer ; the other 
managed to escape with a few men only. Finally, the sloop 


remained in the hands of the Frenchmen. The second lieu- 
tenant C. Dalyel, (sic) who had led the attack, was among 
the prisoners ; he had been in the thickest of the fight all 
through, and had received twenty- three wounds." 

Napoleon lost no time in rewarding the brave men 
who had distinguished themselves in this engagement, 
and later on Captain Pollet was awarded the Cross of 
the Legion of Honour. 

MM. Duchenne and Carbonnier have written an 
interesting work, in which the following anecdote is 
mentioned, in connection with J. P. Antoine Duchenne, 
a true-bred sailor, born in Boulogne, 1767, who dis- 
tinguished himself first as a privateer : 

" Duchenne was playing cards, one afternoon, in 
company with Bucaille and other privateers. . . . The 
conversation having turned on the different breeds of 
sheep, Duchenne declared that he preferred English 
mutton to any other. ' If /that is the case,' said Bucaille, 
' we must manage to get some. You will have to see 
to it, Duchenne.' " 

Duchenne required no pressing, but put to sea that 
very evening ; he effected a landing on the English 
coast, and was just in the act of driving on board a small 
flock of sheep, which he had come upon near the shore, 
when he was assailed by coastguards. Duchenne fought 
so well that the coastguards had to surrender, and 
he brought them to Boulogne, as well as the sheep, 
to the great delight of Bucaille and the other privateers. 

Privateering was Duchenne's only occupation up 
to Qth Ventose, XII., when he was appointed lieutenant 
in the navy. Napoleon gave him the rank of Chevalier, 
and awarded him the Cross of the Legion of Honour, 
on August i6th, 1804. 

The famous privateer known under the name of 
Baron Bucaille is still remembered at Boulogne. His 


name was not really Bucaille, and his claim to the title 
of Baron has been contested ; but, nevertheless, popular 
tradition had always given him this title, and always 
will, as a sign of distinction among the other privateers 
who had made a name for themselves during the Revo- 
lution and the Empire. 

Bucaille was born in 1764, and took service on board 
a privateer on February 6th, 1793 ; but on the 20th of 
the same month the ship was captured by the English, 
and Bucaille remained a prisoner till the following July. 
After his release he went on board the Souffleur as mate, 
where his profits in prize-money soon became sufficient 
to enable him to take a wife. In December, 1794, he 
married Marie Jacqueline Delpierre, and when called 
upon to sign the contract at the Mairie was obliged to 
declare his inability to write. 

But, at any rate, he could fight ! and he proved this 
in such a manner as to gain the entire confidence of crews 
and shipowners. He contributed more than anyone 
else to the new tactics introduced by the Boulogne 
privateers, which were to keep out of sight and touch 
of the enemy, while taking every opportunity of capturing 
his ships by surprise. 

For this purpose, privateering boats were built not 
so much for defence as for sharp attack ; they were 
made for fast sailing, and their movements were so rapid 
that they fell like birds of prey upon their victims, 
bewildering them by the boldness and suddenness of 
their attack. These new boats were made especially 
for boarding, and were built low, so as to offer less 
mark for the enemy's guns. 

As Bucaille had greatly . distinguished himself on 
several occasions, he was given the command of a priva- 
teer, the Furet, in 1796, and of the Enjoleur in 1797. 

After this, the " sea-dog " became port officer at 


Havre in 1798, and occupied a similar post at Boulogne 
for a period of several weeks in 1803-4. But he returned 
to privateering on the Adolphe in January, 1804, and 
by April i6th had already captured six important prizes. 
Owing to his exploits, he was made a Chevalier of the 
Legion of Honour in February, 1804. 

He was again appointed port' officer of Boulogne in 
July, 1804, at the time that the flotilla was being organ- 
ised, and the quays were lined with the largest number 
of ships that had ever been gathered there. Bucaille 
rendered most valuable services ; but his old seafaring 
life had so much attraction for him that he returned 
to it. 

This is the last entry in his register : 

" Captain of the privateer VEtoile, at sea in war 
time, engaged in action with the English cutter Argus, 
which surrendered September i8th, 1806." 

Bucaille was a sailor of the same stamp as Dugay- 
Trouin and Jean-Bart. When he came ashore, he was 
out of his element ; he was only happy at sea, and was 
passionately fond of storms, the boarding of ships, and 
the rattling of grape shot. 

He was never taught arithmetic, but could do 
the most complicated sums from memory when, on 
returning to port, he had to give an account of the 
prizes made and of the shares due to his crew. 

The number of prizes he brought into Boulogne 
amounted to ninety-nine, independently of those he 
took into other ports. 

When off his ship, the kindness, gentleness, and 
honesty he displayed were only equal to the fearless- 
ness he showed in his naval actions. He died in Bou- 
logne on January loth, 1848, in a house in the Rue 
del'Ecu. * 

The Emperor consulted the privateers just as he 


asked the opinion of any specialist whom he thought 
capable of giving him practical information ; as, for 
instance, Captain Broquant, who was summoned by 
Napoleon to his pavilion. I am indebted to M. Benard, 
Broquant 's great-grandson, for the following extract 
from the captain's Memoirs concerning this episode : 
" Privateer Broquant 's interview with Napoleon : 

" M. Coquet, port officer of Boulogne, came to inform 
me that the Emperor wished to see me ; and, in obedience 
to orders, I was obliged to go at once to the Baraque at the 
Tour d'Odre. I had no time even to change my clothes, 
though I begged for permission to do so, since I was most 
unsuitably dressed for appearing before so great a man ; 
but the orders were positive I was compelled to go im- 
mediately. When I arrived, he made me take a seat near 
the armchair he was occupying, and said at once : ' I have 
made inquiries about you, and was informed that you had 
a special knowledge of the sea in these parts, and the pas- 
sage across the Straits, as well as of the English coast.' 

" Then he asked some details concerning the sand-banks 
to be avoided. I explained to him the means to adopt for 
the Rembret shoal, and the others that seem most danger- 
ous. ... I told him that in order to land easily, it was 
necessary to choose high tide at the turn, because in that 
manner the boats could go over the shoals and be beached 
on dry land." 

Napoleon then asked the privateer's opinion on the best 
means of avoiding the English division that was then in 
sight of Boulogne, and received the following original reply : 

" Sire, if you choose the right moment, you can shut it 
up under lock and key, and put the key in your pocket." 

" At these words," Broquant adds in his Memoirs, " the 
Emperor gave a start that frightened me ; he thought I was 
joking. Whereupon he said, addressing me as ' thou ' for 
the first time, ' Art thou joking ? ' I assured him that I 
would never dare take such a liberty with my Emperor, 
and that I would explain my meaning. He at once gave 


orders to his valet to bid everybody retire, and to let no 
one enter even in the room adjoining, for he wished to be 
absolutely alone with me in order to acquaint himself with 
the plan I had to communicate." 

The captain gave a lengthy exposition of his theories, 
the result of his personal experience, pointing out the 
favourable winds and the conditions under which the 
enemy's division would be forced to take shelter in 
English ports and roadsteads, because of the peril there 
would be for the ships out at sea ; he also impressed on 
the Emperor the valuable services that might be rendered 
by the privateers in the execution of his schemes. 

" When I had finished explaining my views," writes 
Broquant, " the Emperor said : ' Do you know that we 
have been talking quite a long time ? ' and looking at his 
watch, he found that the conversation had lasted for an 
hour and twenty- three minutes. ' I am very glad of your 
information,' he added ; ' I shall want you again.' Then 
he took my hand, and calling to Captain Bihart, he said to 
him, ' See M. Broquant home.' That was how we parted 
. . . and the Emperor shook me again by the hand." 

This gallant sailor was no stranger to Napoleon, 
even before the interview related above, for in the 
Gazette de France of February i2th, 1804, is an article 
concerning the capture of two important prizes by 
Le Prosper, a privateer commanded by Broquant : 

" This vessel was still in the building-yard when the First 
Consul visited the port 'for the first time. He went up to 
her, looked at her carefully, took note of her proportions, and 
complimented her builder. He then went round her, examin- 
ing more particularly various parts in her construction, and 
touching them. This mark of interest was looked upon as 
a good omen by the crew, who now consider the ship in- 
vincible. Broquant, who is in command, is a man of intelli- 
gence and intrepidity." 


Later on, the captain was made Chevalier of the Legion 
of Honour, and it is said that Admiral Bruix himself 
handed him the Order, on the day that the first stone 
of the Column was laid (i8th Brumaire, XIII.). 

When Bucaille, Broquant,* and other Boulogne 


privateers fell into the hands of the enemy, they were 
sent aboard English pontoons. It was almost impossible 
to escape from these strange prisons, which were anchored 
in the roadsteads or docks. They resembled those 
floating barracks which have nowadays been organised 
in our large ports, by fitting up old disused vessels.; 
for since the adoption of steam has completely trans- 

* Broquant, amongst others, made twelve different attempts to escape 
from the pontoons, and succeeded at last. 


formed the conditions of naval warfare, it was the only 
way in which these majestic hulks of former days could 
be utilised. 

The exploits of Boulogne seamen naturally became 
a theme for many theatrical plays, of which the chief 
interest was the glorification of the famous townsmen. 

For instance, the Boulogne Corsair, or the Generous 
Captain, was composed to celebrate the capture of an 
English gunboat by the privateer VEspiegle, commanded 
by Captain Duchenne. The author's name was Champ- 
mele, and he was himself one of the company of the town 
theatre, where the play was performed on the 15 th 
Nivose, XL The captain of the English gunboat, who 
had been wounded, was brought on the stage, lying on 
a stretcher, as part of the performance. One of the 
verses occurring in the play ran thus : 

" Qu'on chante Jean-Bart et Duquesne 
Vous ne m'en verrez point jaloux; 
Je chante Bucaille et Duchenne ! 
Mon bonheur est bien aussi doux." 

(Let others sing of Jean-Bart and Duquesne, you will 
not find me envious ; I sing Bucaille and Duchenne, 
my pleasure is no less great.) 

Then the two heroes alluded to in the verse were 
brought on the stage, and stood on a spot marked with 
chalk, where they might receive a crown coming down 
from the sky-border on their heads. The one intended 
for Duchenne reached its destination safely, but Bucaille 
seeing his fall on the ground, owing to some mistake 
in the machinery, picked it up, without more ado, and 
placed it on his head. 

Though the Boulogne privateers harassed the English 
shipping for many years, it must be admitted that the 
British sailors, in their turn, inflicted severe reprisals 


on the fleet of " gnats." For instance, on October 
8th and gth, 1806, under cover of a dark night, thirty- 
one English pinnaces sailed close in to Boulogne, and 
threw about a hundred rockets, which burst right in the 
middle of the town, over the hospital (now the Museum), 
on the Place Saint-Nicolas, in the Rue de 1'ficu, etc. 

Not content with shot, shell, and fireships, the 
enemy had made use in this instance of an improved 
rocket. These rockets (called Congreve, after the in- 
ventor) were made of an iron cylinder about four inches 
in diameter, terminated in a pointed cone eight inches 

Some of these were found next day on the beach 
at low tide, and it is highly probable that the ship which 
was laden with them was sunk by the firing of the coast 
batteries, which were able to avert the peril. 

On one occasion, Napoleon was scanning the horizon 
from his quarters at the top of the cliff, when suddenly an 
alarm gun resounded from a distance in the roadstead, 
and echoed loud and long among the sandhills. 

Napoleon immediately looked out to sea with his 
spyglass, and saw a French ship pursued by an English 
sloop, which had approached the line of ships under 
cover of a mist. A sudden ray of light piercing the fog 
for one instant disclosed the attack, which was quite 
unexpected. For only a short time before, a small 
squadron of the enemy had sailed in the offing, in sight 
of the coast, and the admiral had given immediate 
orders that one of the fastest ships should reconnoitre 
and watch the movements of the fleet that had been 
signalled. On returning to port, the captain had re- 
ported the enemy to be in full sail towards the English 
coast, and added that they appeared to be far more 
anxious to escape attack than to make a hostile demon- 
stration < 


In consequence of this report, all suspicion and alarm 
were allayed. 

But it was really nothing but an ingenious feint to 
deceive the French more thoroughly, for one of the 
ships, supposed to be escaping, soon took a course in 
the opposite direction and approached Boulogne, while 
remaining invisible behind the mist which had arisen. 

Napoleon realised the clever manoeuvre, but it was 
already too late to avoid the fatal results. When he 
saw the French boat grappled and dragged away to the 
open sea before help could be given (for pursuit was 
hopeless, owing to the fog), he went into such a violent 
fit of passion that his officers were alarmed lest he should 
be seized with a fatal stroke. 

They instantly summoned a doctor, who judged it 
necessary to bleed him on the spot that is, at the 
"Post of Observation " and "the blood spurted far 
out on to the ground." 



The Composition of the " Army of England " Right Camp 
and Left Camp Hutting and Mud Walls Grenadiers, 
Sailors, and Peasants Their Good Fellowship The Marines 
of the Guard Composition of the Staff at Boulogne Camp- 
Impressions of a Contemporary A " Velite " at the Bou- 
logne Camp. 

ON October 27th, 1797, the Directory had ordered the 
immediate assembling of an army, to be called the Army 
of England, and to be commanded by General Bonaparte. 
On January 5th, 1798, a national loan of eighty million 
francs was raised to meet the expense incurred by the 
scheme which had been decided upon for the invasion 
of England. 

Finally, on February 8th, 1798, Bonaparte started 
on a rapid inspection of the coast, from Etaples to the 
Island of Walcheren, so as to ascertain what would be 
the prospects of success in such an enterprise. He left 
Paris accompanied by General Lannes, and Bourrienne, 
his secretary, passed through Etaples, and reaching 
Boulogne on the 22nd, he carefully inspected the town 
and harbour. Then, continuing the inspection along 
the coast, he passed through Ambleteuse and Calais, 
and by the time he reached Dunkirk, was fully per- 
suaded that the scheme was realisable, but that the 
preparations would require at least a year. 

Accordingly, on the 24th Pluviose, he issued the 



following order from Dunkirk, clearly proving that he 
meant to make Boulogne the centre of organisation : 

" DUNKIRK, i2th February, 1798. 

" General Caffarelli will repair at once to Boulogne, 
and take measures for the improvement of the harbour ; 
it must be capable of accommodating 50 gunboats, from 
six to nine divisions of fishing-boats, with a draught of 7 
to 8 feet ; one or two divisions of horse transports, 50 to 
each division ; six ships of 100 tons for the staff ; six ships 
for artillery ; six ships for the official management ; six 
ships for hospitals. 

" Citizen Forfait is to hand over the sum of 15,000 livres 
to the civil engineer agent of Boulogne, to enable General 
Dufalga to start the works at once. 

" He will inspect the batteries defending Boulogne, and 
increase them if necessary ... he will send privateers 
with engineer officers to reconnoitre the English coast from 
Folkestone to Rye, to ascertain the real conditions of defence 
on that part of the coast, and take note of the batteries which 
it would be necessary to carry, or take by surprise, so as to 
effect a landing. 


On his return to Paris, Bonaparte sent in a report 
(February 23rd, 1798) in which he came to the conclusion 
that it would be necessary to wait till the following 
year to attempt the invasion of England. Soon after, 
on February 26th, 1798, he again wrote to General 
Caffarelli : 

" Citizen General, the result to be obtained from the 
works in the various ports of the Pas-de-Calais is this : 

" The greater part of the boats must be able to leave 
the harbour on one single tide. . . . You will give special 
attention to the coast batteries at Boulogne and Amble- 



Then the famous Egyptian campaign was started, 
and a decree of the Directory, dated 23rd Germinal, 
summoned " Citizen General Bonaparte, Commander- 
in-Chief of the Army of England," to the supreme com- 
mand of the Army of the East ;" and the scheme was 
laid aside for the time being. 

In 1801 the First Consul took up the project once 
more, and whole companies were set to work under the 
direction of the naval and military engineers. 

At that time the flotilla was commanded by Rear- 
Admiral Latouche-Tre'ville, who had established his 
headquarters at the Tour d'Odre, on arriving at Boulogne. 
It was he who, in 1801, repelled two attacks directed by 

Just at this period, France entered into negotiations 
for peace with England ; the preliminaries were signed 
in London on October ist, 1801, and from that moment 
all preparations for armament ceased : when the treaty 
was ratified at Amiens (March 26th, 1802), the port of 
Boulogne was restored to the mercantile marine, and 
the troops stationed along the coast were drafted else- 

But on May I7th the English and French ambassadors 
each returned to their Government, and war was again 
declared. ... It was then that the preparations for 
the invasion of England were undertaken on a vast 
scale, and that the Grand Army, which Napoleon 
definitely formed in 1804, first began to concentrate. 

At the beginning of September, 1803, many of the 
troops were ordered to leave their respective cantonments, 
in order to pitch their tents on the Plateaux of Odre 
and Outreau. Thirty-six thousand men, under General 
Soult, mostly from the camp at Saint-Omer, occupied 
these two positions. 

This corps was composed of light infantry, and twenty 


companies of gunners. The site selected by Napoleon 
for the encampment of the troops, was a stretch of four 
kilometres of land along the coast ; the soldiers were 
obliged to bivouac for several weeks, but were soon 
employed in erecting huts for themselves and for the 
divisions still to come. A curious incident occurred 
when these works were first started. The very first 
blows of a pickaxe, dealt close to the ruins of Caligula's 
Tower, disclosed various relics of antiquity, among which 
was an eagle of the Roman legions ; it was found almost 
at the very spot where the new Caesar's pavilion was 
subsequently raised. 

Bonaparte had pushed on the establishing of the 
camps with the greatest activity, and by June, 1804, 
all the corps that had been selected to form part of the 
Grand Army had assembled.* 

Four principal positions were chosen for the camps, 
within a radius of ten kilometres from Boulogne. The 
two most important were placed to right and left of the. 
port, and were known respectively as the Right and Left 

The first extended from the Tour d'Odre to Wimille, 
and the other from Outreau to Portel. 

The huts, built by the soldiers, were erected as though 
by magic ; the forest of Boulogne supplied the necessary 
timber, the turf was raised from the plains, and the 
requisite stone was taken from the beach and cliffs. 
A few weeks, only, had sufficed to transform the hitherto 
deserted plateaux into a picturesque sort of town. The 
scene was full of interest and animation, for these 
willing workmen were the very men who had marched 
over a large portion of Europe as conquerors, and had 

* It was in 1804 that the Emperor organised the magnificent Grand 
Army of seven corps : Bernadotte at the east, Augereau at the west, and 
five camps in the centre Utrecht, Ostend, Boulogne, Arras, and Montreuil. 



laid aside swords and muskets to handle their spades and 

Some had to dig the ground, cut new roads, and level 
the land ; while others cut the timber, drove in stakes, and 
transported fragments of rock from the coast ; all the 
woodwork, doors, window-frames and camp-beds, etc., 
were manufactured by the soldiers. 

Then when the work was over, they resumed their 
drill and practised the skilful manoeuvres which made 
the Boulogne camp the military school of the Empire, 
so to speak. 

The huts were mostly built of wood and mud- walls, 
with thatched roofs, and were made to accommodate 
fifteen men. They were placed at equal distances from 
each other, and presented an alignment of three rows, 
covering a stretch of over four kilometres. 

A few paces distant from the third row were the 
officers' quarters, and in the rear of them, were the 
kitchens, so placed that they could conveniently serve 
each battalion separately. 

The camps were divided at equal distances by cross 
roads, paved so as to form a sort of mosaic ; they served 
to mark out the battalions one from the other, and made 
circulation easy. A sign-board placed at the angle of 
each street bore the name of some celebrated victory, 
or memorable event, as, for instance the Rue de Valmy, 
de Jemmapes, de Fleurus, de Campo-Formio, de Zurich, 
du Saint-Bernard. And the avenues : des fitats-Gener- 
aux, de la Constituante, du Jeu-de-Paume, de la Federa- 
tion, de la Convention, des Pyramides, de Marengo. . . . 

In their leisure hours, the soldiers took pleasure in 
embellishing their quarters, which they surrounded 
with little gardens. In some of these, they had set up, 
among the flowers and vegetables, small columns, 
pyramids, obelisks, statues or redoubts, fashioned out of 


clay and shells ; while in others, crosses of Honour, tables, 
benches and manifold other designs were cut in the turf, 
revealing in a thousand ways the ingenuity of the French 

The officers' quarters were made to look like charming 
country villas. Their gardens were laid out, sometimes, 
with the good taste that betrays the artist's hand ; 
some even had aviaries filled with birds of all kinds ; 
or poultry yards abundantly supplied with fowls, ducks, 
geese, pigeons and rabbits. 

When in residence at the camp, the Emperor held 
frequent reviews, and took the command himself during 
field practice ; each division had to manoeuvre in turn 
before him. 

He was up and about at six o'clock in the morning, 
and only returned to the pavilion at five in the afternoon, 
when he would start working on other matters. He 
was always happy when among the soldiers ; he would 
question them, making inquiries concerning their years 
of service and the battles in which they had fought, 
and listen kindly to any request they might make. 

Such are the interesting details we find in the historical 
notes published by Brunet, a Boulonnais writer. 

In order to economise the timber, for the greater 
part of the forests of Boulogne, Guines and Hardelot, 
had been felled, it was decided to build the huts partly 
of wood, and partly of mud-walls, according to the custom 
of the peasants in the district. The help of the population 
of the surrounding villages and hamlets was particularly 
valuable in this case, since the knowledge and experience 
of a poor shepherd, for instance, was worth all the science 
of an engineer. 

A notice was therefore issued, inviting the co-operation 
of the peasants in the district, men and women, for 
under these special circumstances, the women were 


allowed to accompany their fathers and husbands, and 
enter the camps. Many of the inhabitants responded to 
this appeal, and were only too glad to help in the con- 
struction of mud-walls, which resulted in the providing 
of relatively comfortable quarters for the soldiers. 

From the moment that the troops were quartered in 
the Boulonnais, the farmers had responded, in the very 
best spirit, to all the requisitions that were made ; but 
as they were kept waiting for payment, they pressed 
their claims, discreetly at first, and then more loudly 
as no heed was paid. Many of the peasants had given 
up their own personal provisions, and those required 
for their cattle, to the troops. 

Bonaparte took the matter in hand, and wrote to 
the sous-prefet, with the result that the following notice 
appeared on I2th Prairial, XII. : 


" To the MAYORS of towns, boroughs, and villages : 
" The reason of the delay which is causing so 
much complaint, is quite easy to explain ; it must be 
imputed to some of you, who have shown great neglect 
in forwarding me the vouchers of provisions supplied ; 
in the second place, the quantities stated in the receipts 
are expressed, sometimes in old measures, sometimes in 
new, then again in Paris measures, and lastly in the local ; 
when the proper method to adopt, was to establish a 
register, in which all the quantities were put down in 
the same system of measures. You will understand that 
the immense number of receipts has complicated the 
work to a considerable extent. 

" In consequence the price of a quintal of hay is 6 
francs 66 ; of a quintal of straw, 3 francs 33 ; and a 
bushel of oats, I franc 50. I have the honour to salute 

you, " DUPLAQUET." 


Bonaparte had been much touched by the spirit 
of disinterested patriotism displayed by the peasants 
of the Boulonnais, and also by the cordiality with which 
they had welcomed the soldiers ; and being anxious to 
show his respect and appreciation for that " weapon of 
peace, the spade," which he considered no less useful to 
the country than the weapon used on the battlefield, he 
expressed a desire on one occasion to see the family of 
a certain agriculturist, Jean Aubert. 

Aubert had already been made the recipient of various 
distinctions. An important society of agriculturists 
and gardeners had been formed on 8th Floreal, and when 
the " Festival of Agriculture " was held at Boulogne 
in accordance with the Republican innovation on the 
loth Messidor, the society had presented Jean Aubert 
with a spade of honour, in recognition of his having 
planted, together with his father, the first potatoes in 
the Boulonnais. 

It was good policy on Napoleon's part to let the 
country people understand that events of but slight 
importance had not been forgotten by him, even after 
the lapse of years. 

Besides, it was all in keeping with the spirit of the 
times and of the rural sentiment which was a feature 
of the period. This phase, which manifested itself in 
country festivities and in so-called " odes to the spade," 
had a historic origin. 

In fact, only a few years previously, the Revolution 
had substituted the Republican calendar for the Gregorian, 
and had replaced the names of the saints' days by 
appellations derived from the three great classes of 
nature, and rural objects ; for instance, among the 
terms sanctioned by a decree of the 3rd Brumaire, II., 
we find the following employed to indicate the days of 
the year : bullock, horse, donkey, goose, turkey, pig, 


rabbit, duck, cray-fish ; or carrot, pumpkin, turnip, 
salsify, cress, sorrel, dandelion, asparagus, etc. 

As for the " de"cadis " * they were named after 
agricultural implements. It seemed therefore quite 
natural that Bonaparte should call to mind the " Spade 
Festival," since the Republican calendar was still fre- 
quently used at that time. For instance, the tenth days 
were dedicated to the following instruments : the 
plough, the harrow, the flail, the rake, the hoe, 
the shepherd's crook, the basket, the watering-can, the 

And, to be very precise, we can add that the Festival of 
the Shovel occurred at the end of the third decade 
of Frimaire, and the Festival of the* Spade at the end of 
the first decade of Ventose. 

These details will explain how it was that the modest 
agriculturist, Jean Aubert, and his family, received 
marks of distinction out of all proportion, perhaps, to 
their real merit. 

The reader is aware of what different elements the 
army was composed, and will understand how necessary 
it was that there should be a perfect understanding and 
absolute homogeneity between them, so as to co-operate 
in the execution of the mighty plans for which they were 

First, there were the tried and experienced soldiers, 
men who loved their profession almost to infatuation, 
who scorned all who had not measured themselves with 
the brave on the battlefield; enthusiastic, high-spirited 
heroes, boastful, singers, roysterers ; and on the other 
hand, the sailors, cold, calm and circumspect, men who 
laid themselves out only when the moment came for 
decisive action ; and whose tenacity and courage were 

* ioth day. According to the Republican calendar, the week of seven 
days was replaced by a decade. (Translator's note.) 


no less admirable than was the feverish impatience of 
the soldiers. 

The sailors of the coast along the Straits are particu- 
larly given to reserve ; they never speak except when 
it is absolutely necessary to do so, and very rarely 
sing. They are " pensive " rather than " expansive " by 

How were these two different categories of men to 
fraternise ? For they had nothing in common but 
their bravery, and a bravery, too, which manifested 
itself in such very different ways. 

The First Consul had a clear intuition of the necessity 
of amalgamating these divergent spirits into one har- 
monious whole, and applied himself at once to bring 
about this result. 

He began by convincing the soldiers of the fact 
that, to be " complete " men, as he termed it, all they 
required was to understand the handling of an oar or 
the management of sails, in case of necessity; and to 
attain this perfection the soldiers spent the hours which 
were not employed in manoeuvres, in practising the use 
of the oar on various boats moored in the harbour or 

The soldiers soon began to look upon their new duty 
as a form of amusement; and as for the "sea-dogs," 
they were so gratified at having heroes as auxiliaries, 
that they applied themselves with real good-will to 
initiate their comrades in naval practices, and were quite 
proud of their progress, which they attributed, of course, 
to their own methods of teaching. 

Napoleon would sometimes get into a boat with two 
or three sailors and row up unexpectedly into the very 
midst of the tall "ship-boys." Then he amused himself 
by starting races, encouraging some, congratulating 
others, and always rewarding, in some way, those who 


had distinguished themselves by their dexterity and 

Of course there were always rations of wine and 
tobacco for those who had won the approval of their chief, 
as well as public congratulations and complimentary 
Orders of the Day ; but no reward was valued so much 
as the following mark of attention : when Napoleon 
wished to make an enthusiast of one of " his " soldiers, 
or electrify a whole battalion, it was sufficient for him 
to call up the man he wished to distinguish, then 
taking him by the ear, and looking him full in the face, 
he would ask : " What is thy name ? " The soldier 
would give his reply, blushing with pleasure under his 
bronzed cheeks. The Emperor then pinched his ear 
hard, without saying a word, and this solemn familiarity 
had a prodigious effect on all those present. 

All this may appear very childish to those who only 
look on the surface of things, yet this little scene reveals 
Napoleon's wonderful knowledge of humanity, for the 
man who has once been asked to give his name to his 
chief, feels from that moment that he is a somebody, 
and is henceforward filled with the one ambition of 
accomplishing some heroic deed. He has been dis- 
tinguished, he must distinguish himself. 

At all events it is said that Napoleon never forgot 
a name mentioned in this manner, and that he could 
recall it without hesitation if the occasion arose ; this 
gave rise to the tradition implicitly believed in the 
camp that " he knew all his soldiers by name." 

And, still actuated by a desire to bring about a perfect 
blending of interests and good-will among his men, 
the First Consul, when passing through the " Beurriere," 
would often ask to have the best sailors introduced to 
him, or address them himself when they were pointed 


And it followed therefore that, when on duty to- 
gether, the sailors and soldiers rivalled each other in 
displaying their zeal, courage and good-fellowship 
but not of the kind which are placarded on walls, so 
to say, side by side with advertisements for lost articles 
theirs was the real good-fellowship which is proved by 
resolution and deeds. 

Lastly, and still further to accentuate the union of 
the land and sea forces, everything was done to facilitate 
their intercourse. All work and fatigue duty as well 
as rewards and amusements were equally divided, 
and equal distributions of wine, coffee, biscuits, and 
tobacco were made among the men of the two services. 
If there were two orderlies on duty, one was a sailor 
and the other a soldier. In hospital, their beds were 
alternately placed. The brave deeds of the sailors 
were mentioned in despatches with those of the soldiers, 
so that in a very few weeks they were addressing each 
other with the familiar term of " little brother." 

The policy of bringing the men in contact during 
manoeuvres was excellent in itself, but nothing could 
conduce more to a perfect mutual understanding than 
for soldiers and sailors to live side by side. 

The First Consul and Admiral Bruix adopted the 
plan of quartering certain troops on certain boats ; in 
this manner soldiers and sailors led a barrack life on 
board ship. 

" The size of the gunboats had been calculated to accom- 
modate a company of infantry and several gunners. The 
battalions were then composed of nine companies, the semi- 
brigades of two full battalions, the third remaining at the 
depot. The gunboats were fitted out in conformity with 
this complement of troops. Nine gunboats formed a sec- 
tion, and carried nine companies, or a battalion. Two 
sections formed a division, and carried a semi-brigade, so 


that a gunboat corresponded to a company, a section repre- 
sented a battalion, and a division a semi-brigade. The 
naval officers of a corresponding rank commanded gunboats, 
or a section, or a division. When the men were once attached 
to a boat they were always kept on her, so as to ensure 
perfect adhesion between the two services. In this way 
the naval and military officers and men learnt to know and 
trust each other, and were ready to lend a helping hand. 
The companies had to furnish a body of twenty-five men 
to their respective vessels. These men were always on 
board, and were stationed on her for a month at a time. 
During this period they were quartered with the crews, 
whether they happened to be manoeuvring out at sea or 
moored in the harbour, and did everything that the sailors 
did, including rowing and gun practice. The whole company 
was stationed in succession on board, twenty-five men at 
a time. 

" The reader will observe that every man was alternately 
a soldier, a sailor, a gunner, and sometimes even an engineer, 
when he was employed in the dock- works." 

The sailors on their side had to be initiated in military 
practices, so different from their own, and during the 
day, the crews, armed with the weapons belonging to the 
troops quartered on their boats, were landed on the beach 
or quays and put through the soldiers' drill. By this 
means the regular army could reckon on a contingent of 
at least 15,000 infantry, capable of defending the flotilla 
along the coast, or of supporting a landing on the foreign 
shore, in case of invasion. 

Even the grenadiers were turned into sailors. It is 
true that they needed a little tactful management at 
first, as some of the " grumblers " thought it derogatory 
for them to associate with the " tars," but for love of 
the " little corporal " they soon entered resolutely into 
the spirit of partnership. 

" If he says that it ought to be so, it must be so ! " 


Such was the soldiers' typical remark on all decisions 
emanating from the Chief, in whom they placed un- 
limited confidence and a blind and passionate faith. 

Napoleon persistently impressed on Admiral Bruix 
the necessity of making the men of the Guard practise 

" SAINT-CLOUD, October 8th, 1803. 

" I must ask you to make the soldiers quartered 
on the shallops row as much as possible. All the men 
of the Guard must learn to row ; seventy-five men from 
each shallop must row two or three hours a day. The 
soldiers quartered on the gunboats, as well as those 
on the shallops, must row in the harbour when they 
are unable to go to the roadstead. 


The grave and solemn grenadiers were therefore 
sent on board the shallops, which, by reason of their 
lightness, were intended for the rapid concentration of 
men at the proper moment ; and the grenadiers went 
out in them to the roadstead every day, and were taught 
to row. 

But out of respect for their military dignity, rather 
perhaps than from motives of utility, Bruix had some 
small howitzers put on board the shallops, and these 
they were allowed to fire occasionally. In this way 
their self-respect was saved ; and any order stating 
that " the grenadiers will practise firing the howitzers " 
really meant " will learn how to row on board such 
and such a shallop." 

By these tactful means, instead of their feeling 
humiliated (which might have led to insubordination), 
the soldiers returned to shore looking as gay and im- 
posing as ever ; and stroking their rough moustachios 


with their blistered hands, would remark to anyone 
who chose to listen, " Well, my friends, we have been 
firing howitzers." 

No one was taken in by this little vanity, but everyone 
respected it, on realising what touching good- will these 
brave fellows were giving proof of, in practising a craft 
so little in their line. And everyone was pleased pleased 
with himself, and pleased with the rest. 

And so, by small means, and a little kindly feeling, 
great things can be obtained from the people, not to 
say heroic self-denial. Heroism, to these warriors, was 
not merely a question of storming through a hail of 
grape-shot, or of boarding a vessel, but of running the 
risk of being called " boatmen, ferrymen, oarsmen." 

Only one incident happened but it was sufficient, 
since it served as a precedent to inspire a prudent reserve 
among those who were inclined to cut jokes at the expense 
of the soldiers. 

On one of the very first occasions that the grenadiers 
went to sea to practise with the howitzers (we know 
what that meant), the news of the event soon spread in 
the town, and many of the citizens were anxious to 
watch from a distance, the display of skill or rather the 
want of it on the part of the novices. Very soon the 
platform, stockade, pier and cliffs were packed with an 
inquisitive but not ill-disposed crowd, watching with 
their glasses the movements of the beginners, who were 
but poor hands at the work so far. 

To give the grenadiers more freedom for their evolu- 
tions, it had been decided that they should practise in 
the offing. They were a long way off, therefore, from indis- 
creet onlookers, but unfortunately also they were some- 
what on the open sea. The reader will guess what 
happened. The waves being very rough, more than one 
grenadier was seen to lean over the side of the shallops, 


and that was not exactly to admire their own reflection 
in the waters. 

To prevent an outburst of popular gaiety is a thing 
that neither Pope nor Emperor could expect to do, 
with respect to French people. On this occasion the 
cases of disordered digestions were so numerous, that 
Bruix ordered the manoeuvre to cease before the regula- 
tion hour, and the troops returned to shore. But by 
the time the grenadiers landed on the quays, the feeling 
of the populace had changed. Everyone had ceased to 
laugh at the " big ship-boys " who had been a source of 
merriment for two whole hours to the spectators. Seeing 
them looking crimson with humiliation, or livid with 
sickness, the people were silent, and on the face of each 
was rather a sentiment of compassion. 

And this was by no means the least cause of offence 
to the amateur sailors, who filed past the crowd without 
saying a word, and marched rapidly towards their encamp- 
ment at Terlincthun. 

On reaching the base of the cliff, a group of grenadiers 
had heard some street-boys tittering and taunting them 
as much as they dared, when a half-tipsy workman met 
the little troop, and addressing one of the soldiers, who 
was already in a state of nervous irritation, he called 
out in a jeering tone of voice : " Hulloa, old porpoise, 
how goes the oar ? Can you row a good stroke yet ? " 

" I don't know about that," retorted the grenadier 
with apparent calm, " but I have always heard that I 
am a very good shot." And suddenly raising his musket, 
he aimed at his aggressor, exclaiming : " Instead of 
calling us names, just count your fingers, you ugly ." 

There was an immediate report, and though the man 
was standing about twenty paces away, he had half 
his hand shot away. 

On hearing his shouts of pain people ran up, but 


the only reply made by the officer who had witnessed 
the whole incident, was the following significant remark : 
"I saw nothing, and nothing " uttered with 
peculiar emphasis "happened." 

This episode was soon known to everyone, and on 
the following day, the grenadiers were not only allowed 
to continue their work in peace, but were loudly cheered 
on their way by the inhabitants. And when a few days 
later, Napoleon witnessed the soldiers' willingness, and 
the welcome given them by the townsmen, he turned to 
Bruix and remarked : " You see, Admiral, that you can 
ask anything of good Frenchmen, even to associate fire 
and water." 

In order to facilitate the handling of the boats, the 
Emperor compiled a vocabulary for the use of the crews. 
These instructions are to be found among the archives 
of the Empire. Napoleon gives the definition of all 
the naval terms most generally used: "Starboard, port, 
blade, thole-pin, thwart, bowsprit, mizzen, jib, yard, 
boat-hook"; he explained the meaning of "lower, let 
out a reef, go alongside, tack " ; and described the 
handling to correspond to the following orders : " Take 
the boat-hooks, shove off, ship oars, against the wind, 
let go, astern, back water." 

Among the heroes of the " Old Guard " whose brilliant 
deeds have been extolled by poets and historians alike, 
there was a splendid battalion that did most valuable 
service in all the European campaigns, although it 
has no particular history, somehow, of its own. I allude 
to the Marines of the Guard, who were formed by the 
First Consul. 

Napoleon's object, as he clearly expressed it himself, 
was to establish a permanent army with a twofold purpose. 

Accordingly, on September ist, 1803, he directed 
Decres, Minister of Marine, to organise a naval battalion 


of 1,000 men, to form crews for seven sections of gunboats 
and shallops. The crews were attached to the following 
ports : Saint-Halo, Granville, Havre, Boulogne, Calais, 
Dunkirk, Antwerp. 

The engineer, Forfait, was commissioned to super- 
intend the construction of shallops and gunboats, 
and the naval captain Daugier was placed in command 
of this corps, which took the name of Battalion of the 
Marines of the Guard. 

In order to prove how highly he valued his new 
regiment of marines, Bonaparte wished to have the 
men on guard at his pavilion, together with the Grenadiers 
of the Consular Guard. As the sailors would have felt 
mortified at having to display their modest caps and 
jackets by the side of the gorgeous uniform of the grena- 
diers, Bonaparte decided that they should be dressed as 
follows : 

Jacket with upright collar, of dark blue cloth, faced 
with orange cloth, and trimmed with braid ; cuff-facings, 
red, edged orange cloth ; epaulettes, dark blue and 
orange edging ; trousers, falling over boots, blue with 
orange stripe ; black leather cross-belt ; black shako with 
yellow edging, and orange plaited braid ; red plume. 

It appears that the marines were highly delighted 
with their dress, and that they aroused the greatest 
interest among the public, when they appeared on parade 
for the first time, in their smart uniform. So much so, 
indeed, that the army men were jealous, for all glances 
and cheers were reserved for the " new " instead of for 
the " old " guards, whom they had always been in the 
habit of seeing. 

" What obstacles were not put in my way ? What pre- 
judices I had to overcome, and what determination I had 
to show, before I succeeded in obtaining that these poor 


sailors should be put into uniform, formed into a regiment, 
and drilled ! I should ruin everything ! I was told, and yet, 
how useful they subsequently became ! What better idea 
could be conceived than to have two services for one pay ? 
The Marines of the Guard were none the less good sailors, 
and proved themselves the best of soldiers. In emergency 
we found them capable sailors, gunners, engineers, every- 
thing ! If, in the navy, instead of meeting with opposition 
at every turn, I had had someone to agree with me, what 
results we might have achieved ! " (Memorial de Sainte 

Though their functions were of a secondary character, 
they were considered of primary importance by Bona- 
parte, who looked at everything from the practical 
point of view. 

The several duties assigned to this body of picked 
men who became Marines of the Imperial Guard when 
the Empire was established were to aid in the construc- 
tion of bridges, in the crossing of rivers, and in the trans- 
port of troops, supplies and ammunition especially by 
means of river craft. These were the men who con- 
structed the bridges at the Isle of Lobau ; it was they 
who prepared the passage of the Danube, just before 
Wagram, and who ensured the maintenance of the troops 
all through the hard and trying Polish campaign. 

But for all that, these brave fellows were no less 
ready in handling their muskets than their oars, and 
no less zealous in distinguishing themselves under fire 
on land, than on the water. By their efforts, the naval 
ensign was carried as gloriously on the battlefield as 
was the national flag itself. 

To specify the services rendered by the Marines of 
the Guard allocated to Boulogne, I may mention that 
at the time of the siege of Dantzig, Napoleon ordered 
the Minister of War, Dejean, to draft what was left of 


the marines at Boulogne, to Dantzig ; they were to post 
by Magdebourg and Cassel, as rapidly as possible. 

During the Austrian campaign, Napoleon wished to 
have near him one of the 
battalions of the Boulogne 
flotilla, as we may see by 
a letter he wrote to the 
Minister of Marine. 

" MONSIEUR, I wish one 
of the flotilla battalions to 
join the Army of the Rhine. 
This is my object : 1,200 
sailors would be very useful 
for crossing the rivers, and 
for navigating the Danube. 
The Marines of the Guard 
have done splendid service 
during the last campaigns. 


The brilliant history of 
the naval soldiers occupies 
but a short period, 1803- 
1815 ! When Napoleon ab- 
dicated for the first time, 
the corps was disbanded, and MARINE GUARD. 

reformed on his return from 
Elba ; we hear of them for the last time at Waterloo. 

In the Boulogne army list, compiled at the time that 
the Grand Army was encamped at Boulogne, we find 
a list of the officers at " His Imperial Majesty's head- 
quarters at Pont-de-Briques and at the Tour d'Odre." 
It would require too much space to give the full 


enumeration of these officers ; I will merely give the 
names of those who belonged to the General Staff. 

His Excellency Marshal of the Empire, Alexander Berthier, 
Minister of War. 

Marescot, Lieutenant-General, First Inspector- General of 

Reille, Major-General. 

Pannetier, Major-General. 

Hanicque, Major-General, Chief of the Staff. 

Kirgener, Colonel, Chief of General Staff of Engineers. 

Aides-de-Camp : 

Arrighi, Colonel. 

Bruyere, Major. 

Girardin, Captain, 

Ornano, Captain. 

Malivoire, Major. 

Martin, Major. 

Perrin-Brichambeau, Captain, etc., etc. 

The General Staff of the Flotilla consisted of : 

Bruix, Admiral. 

Bonnefoux, Maritime Prefect. 

Lacrosse, Rear- Admiral. 

Magon, Rear- Admiral. 

Lafond, Captain, Chief of General Staff. 

Moras, Adjutant Commandant. 

Lostange, Captain of Frigate (deputy). 

Sgansin, Chief Engineer. 

Lair, Chief Naval Engineer. 

Grandelas, Naval Engineer. 

Even, Chief of Naval Administration. 

Thirion, Chief of Naval Artillery-Park. 

Grandpre, Chief Commissioner of Imperial Flotilla. 

Monnet, Major, Naval Artillery. 

Gauthier, Inspector. 

Delimeux, Director of Supplies. 


Commanding large Corps : 

Savary, Rear-Admiral, commanding the Left Centre of 

Le Rey, Captain, commanding Right Centre of Boulogne. 

Courraud, Rear- Admiral, commanding the Left at Etaples. 

Combis, General, commanding the Right, and transports 
flotilla at Etaples. 

Daugier, Captain, commanding Imperial Marine Guard, 
and Reserve. 

Port Staff : 

Le Coat Saint-Haouen, Military Chief. 
Amand Leduc, Captain of Frigate, Adjutant. 
Carpentier, Ship's Ensign. 
Csesar Carpentier, Ship's Ensign. 
Leduc, Ship's Ensign. 
Jouannin, Ship's Ensign. 

After the lapse of a hundred years, we can get a 
very good idea of the thoughts of the soldiers who were 
encamped on the Boulogne shores in 1804, by turning 
to the " Journal of a Velite of the Guard." * 

The following are a few lines from these recollections : 
the reader will appreciate their realistic character. The 
man who wrote them was in camp at Wimereux for 
eleven months. 


" The soldier's life so demoralising nowadays 
in a garrison town was certainly not so at that period, 
one war followed quickly upon another ; we were always 
on the watch. After the coronation ceremony, a number 
of our velites were sent to Milan to attend the crowning 
of the Emperor as King of Italy, the rest of us were 

* The velites were a special corps, organised by a decree dated Nivose 
30, XII. The corps was composed of grenadiers and chasseurs, recruited 
from volunteers, who had an income of no less than 800 frs., and whose apti- 
tudes made it likely that they would soon rise to the rank of sub -lieutenants 
of infantry. (The journal is published from a MSS. by Billon, Editor, Lombard- 


drafted to the Boulogne camp. To make sure of being 
sent among the latter, I had myself reported ill just at 
the time of the departure of the others. There was a 
question of invading England, and I was particularly 
anxious to be one of the invaders. 

" At Boulogne we were encamped not far from the 
sea ; the Emperor came (i5th August, 1804) to review 
us at Wimereux, and distributed the new order of the 
Legion of Honour with great solemnity. The badges were 
handed to him by a page, in the helmets of Duguesclin 
and Bayard. 

" There were a hundred thousand of us there, all 
thirsting for glory, and thinking ourselves vastly superior 
to the army which Philippe-Auguste had collected here 
in 1212, for the expedition against England, similar 
to the one Napoleon was also contemplating. 

" Was the army that fought at Bou vines equal to 
the army of Marengo ? Were the serfs who formed 
the infantry of the old King of France to be compared to 
the glorious survivors of the fourteen Republican armies ? 

" We were drilled every day in exercises for landing 
and embarking, and entered gaily into the spirit of 
our different duties as gunners, fusileers, and sailors, 
which we all had to be in succession ; and twice a week 
we had field practice at the Boulogne camp. 

" This took nearly the whole day. When we were 
off duty we had to repair the boats. 

" It was on one of these, shallop no, that during a 
feint attack, I sniffed the scent of powder for the first 
time, and received my baptism of fire. It is a painful 
fact, but I must admit it, I was afraid ! The terrible 
reality of danger in all its forms, the brutality of cannon- 
balls, whizzing of bullets, corpses lying around, are 
apt to make a recruit's heart beat a little faster. But 
he soon gets accustomed to it. The scrutinising look 


of the veterans, and their scornful smile, above all, the 
fear of ridicule, banish all sense of alarm, and he ends 
by courting danger. Since then I have been in at least 
a hundred engagements, and have never even had a single 
wound worth showing. 

" The flat-bottomed boats that we were embarked 
on, were served by the Marines of the Guard. The 
aspect of these men of iron, sons of the ocean and storm, 
with faces, careless, kindly and intrepid, reassured and 
inspired us. 

" Our dream of ambition was, like their own, to 
share the spoils of England, and to exterminate the 
English. And how eagerly we used to join in every 
embarkation and departure of the general forces. But 
unfortunately it was never anything more than a trial 
manoeuvre, and when the order for turning back was 
given, what vexation ! And how disappointed we were, 
after sailing so close, sometimes, to the land of Albion, 
that we could distinguish the preparations for her defence, 
the fortifications hastily erected, and her innumerable ships, 
of all dimensions and classes, waiting to destroy us ! 

" And yet our nutshells kept the English lying awake. 
One of their caricatures represented the King advancing 
in the Channel, on board a fine ship, and throwing a 
beetroot in the direction of France, saying : ' Go and 
make sugar for them,' a satirical allusion to the con- 
tinental blockade which deprived us of this commodity, 
and also to Napoleon's scheme for replacing colonial 
sugar-cane by the cultivation of beetroot. Pitt was 
full of anxiety at this period, and constantly repeated 
(I heard this afterwards during my captivity in England) : 
' There can be no peace or security for us with such a 
man, whose brain is teeming with plans of invasion.' 
Apart from this, I have very good reason for believing 
that Pitt's fears were well-grounded ! " 



The Stage during the First Republic Madame Angot The 
Company of the Vaudeville Theatre in Paris comes to 
Boulogne Performance of Duguay-Trouin A Few Ex- 

THAT marvellous organiser, Napoleon, thought of every- 
thing ! He was not satisfied with replenishing arsenals, 
arming the flotilla and securing supplies he entered 
into the minutest details as well fully persuaded that 
the success of great undertakings often rests on matters 
apparently insignificant. He was perfectly competent 
to point out omissions, deficiencies and errors, even to 
experts themselves, and his aptitude in this respect 
seems to have extended to almost every conceivable 
subject : 

" This vessel must be tarred." 

" The wine rations of this section must be increased 
on account of their extra duties." 

"It is v imperative to discover which of the con- 
tractors have supplied bad drinks." 

" Supplies for so many days must immediately be 
stored in such and such a fort." 

" The uniforms of that battalion are worn out, they 
must be replaced." 

But this was not all ! 

The officers of the Grand Army needed amusements 
less commonplace than those which sufficed for the 



entertainment of the soldiers. It was very necessary 
to offer them some diversion from their absorbing occu- 
pations, and relaxation for their brains, since they all had 
heavy responsibilities ; for though Napoleon indicated 
what was to be done, he left it to his officers to use what 
means they thought fit in executing his orders ; they 
had, therefore, every opportunity of showing their 

This being so, it was decided to entertain the officers 
with theatrical performances the company of the 
Vaudeville, amongst others, was invited to send the very 
best Parisian actors and a selection of appropriate 
plays was made. 

Before giving a few particulars on the subject of 
these performances, it is necessary to say a few words 
concerning the stage at that period. 

" Mars was fond of being entertained by Thalia 
and Melpomene." But can we wonder at it ? And 
is it not a fact that during the terrible year of 1793 
no less than forty new plays were advertised in the very 
neighbourhood of the guillotine ? 

In the first months of the year 1789 the Opera- 
Comique had given some rather colourless plays : The 
Little Savoyards, False Magic, Raoul Bluebeard, The 
Man of Sentiment, etc., etc. ; then came the I4thof July,* 
the performance was advertised to take place, but the 
theatre was closed that night. 

From that date the theatres were more or less deserted 
for a time, and the register of the Opera-Comique records 
that, on October 6th, the King came to the theatre, 
but as there were only one or two spectators, their 
money was returned, and the play was not per- 

During the following year, the taste for amusement 

* Date of the taking of the Bastille. (Translator's note.) 


was revived in spite of the gravity of events .... and 
the following plays were given : The Good Father, The 
Good Mother, The Good Son ; but the public wanted 
pieces appropriate to the present circumstances, such 
as The Morning of i^th July, or anti-religious plaj's, 
such as The Rigours of the Cloister, a passionate 
diatribe against monasteries. Later on two small operas, 
written in the same spirit, were performed, The Two 
Convents, and the Nuns of the Visitation. 

In 1793 the operas were all inspired by political or 
revolutionary sentiments, and in a chapter of the public 
registers dealing with the expenses incurred by the 
national theatres, we find an item of " twenty-nine livres 
paid for the following inscription painted on the pedi- 
ment of the Opera-Comique : Equality, Fraternity, Unity 
Indivisible, or Death." 

Not only did the actors sing patriotic verses, but 
the audience soon adopted the habit of joining in chorus, 
and of accompanying the baritones and tenors, whose 
artistic singing was entirely drowned by the hoarse 
and strident voices of the pit and gallery. 

When the spectators were pleased with the play and 
performers, they expressed their satisfaction by com- 
pelling the actors to strike up the inevitable Marseillaise,* 
even in the very midst of a scene, or else the following 
hymn, on the same rhythm : 

Assez et trop longtemps la France 
A gemi du poids de ses fers ; 
Deployant enfin sa puissance, 
Elle va venger I'univers (bis) 
Son peuple genereux s'elance ; 

* The Directory published the following decree on January 4, 1796 : 
" All managers of theatres in Paris are bound to have the favourite Republican 
airs performed every day before the raising of the curtain, such as the Mar- 
seillaise, ga ira, le chant du depart ; during the intervals some one of these 
patriotic songs must always be sung." 


Les rois vont etre terrasses, 

Et sur leurs trones renverses 

II va fonder I'independance. 
O sainte Libe,rte, seconde nos exploits ! 
Combats (bis) pour ton triomphe, et rends rhomme a ses 

Oui, nous te jurons, O Patrie ! 

De defendre la Liberte, 

De sacriiier notre vie 

Au maintien de 1'Egalite (bis) 

Contre tout pouvoir despotique 

Nos bras soutiendront Tunite 

Et 1'indivisibilite, 

De notre auguste Republique ! * 

I must cite, as a mere curiosity, the nominal price 
charged for seats at the time of the Directory and Con- 
sulate. In 1795 a stall at the Opera-Comique was worth 
150 francs, and a stall in the dress-circle a thousand francs ! 
paid in assignats such, indeed, was the depreciation in 
the value of paper money. From April ist, 1795, for 
instance, the assignats were only worth one-fifth of their 
nominal value. At the Bourse, on August ist, the gold 
louis was worth 920 francs in assignats ; on September ist, 
1,200 francs ; on November ist, 2,600 francs ; and on 
March, 1796, it was worth 7,200 francs : in paper money. 
This will explain the item " 600 francs for rat poison, 
for destruction of rats and mice in the house and store- 
house of the Opera-Comique, paid in Thermidor, 1795." 

When the occasioa presented itself, Bonaparte and 
his " citizen wife " according to the language of the 

* Literally : " Enough and too long France has languished beneath the 
weight of her chains. Displaying her power at last, she will soon avenge the 
universe. Her generous people are rising, the Kings will soon be overthrown, and 
independence will reign in their stead. Oh, holy Liberty, assist our exploits, 
fight for thine own triumph, and give Man his Rights. Land of our fathers, we 
swear to defend thy liberty, and to sacrifice our lives in upholding equality. 
Our arms will fight for the unity and indivisibility of our august Republic 
against all despotic power." 


period often attended the performances at the Opera- 
Comique. I must here mention a detail which is 
worth recording. In 1799 a certain opera, La Dame 
Voilee, appeared among other lyrical works, and 
met with much success ; as did also a small drama, 
much appreciated by Bonaparte, called Le Delire, in 
which the author portrays on the stage the mental 
tortures of a gambler, whose passion has driven him to 
madness. Now, the register of accounts at the Opera- 
Comique discloses the interesting fact, that Josephine 
went to the theatre on credit in the months of Pluviose, 
Ventose, Germinal, and Floreal, VII., but that Bonaparte 
hastened to settle the account of boxes that had not 
been paid for, the moment the state of his modest finances 
enabled him to do so. The following is the note of 
discount in the register : 

The accountant has received from Citizen Camerani, on 
behalf of Citizeness Bonaparte : 

1. Amount due for two boxes, on account, in 

last Brumaire ..... 66 livres. 

2. For one box, in last Frimaire . . , v 33 livres. 

3. For half box engaged by the said Citizeness 

on the ground floor, No. 2, for the months 
of Brumaire, Frimaire, Nivose, Pluviose, 
VII 800 livres. 

4. For the same box, in Ventose and Germinal . 400 livres. 

1299 livres. 

The 1 8th Brumaire* had borne fruit, and the Opera- 
Comique was one of the first to benefit by it : Citizeness 
Bonaparte was able to pay her debts. 

Though the performances of the Paris theatre com- 
panies were only intended for the officers, the soldiers 

* On the 1 8th Brumaire, Bonaparte, lately returned from Egypt, overthrew 
the Directory. (Translator's note.) 


of the Boulogne Camp were not forgotten, and in accord- 
ance with Bonaparte's wishes, the chiefs encouraged 
all theatrical entertainments that might tend to brighten 
life in the camps. 

The principal plays given in the capital and in the 
other large towns, since the establishment of the Republic, 
were all of such a passionate and political character 
that at the time of which I now speak, it was considered 
inadvisable to revive the extreme ideas which were 
formerly prevalent. 

Besides, the situation had completely altered; what 
changes had not occurred in the social conditions, and 
in the evolution of ideas since 1789 ! 

For instance, at the time of the revolutionary up- 
heaval, M. J. Chenier produced his famous tragedy 
Charles IX., or the School for Kings (November 4th, 
1789), and though the work was written to glorify the 
spirit of the new era, and was dedicated " by a free 
man to a free nation," Chenier was still capable of offering 
it in homage to the King, in the following dedication : 

Monarque des Francais, chef d'un peuple fidele, 
Qui va des nations devenir le modele, 
Lorsqu'au sein de Paris, sejour de tes aieux, 
Ton favorable aspect vient consoler nos yeux, 
Permets qu'une voix libre, a 1'equite soumise, 
Au nom de tes sujets te parle avec franchise. 
Prete a la verite ton auguste soutien, 
Ft, las des courtisans, ecoute un citoyen.* 

Meanwhile hatred of the throne became so virulent, 
that very shortly after, the censorship went to the length 

* Literally :" Monarch of the French, sovereign of a faithful people, soon 
to become the model for all nations ; when, in the heart of Paris, the abode 
cf thine ancestors, thy favourable presence comes to gladden our eyes, listen 
to a free voice, that submits to Justice only, and speaks to thee frankly, on 
behalf of all thy subjects. Lend thine august aid to truth alone, and, weary 
ing of courtiers, listen to a citizen." 


of forbidding that the name of Louis should be given 
to the heroine's fiance in a play called Leon, as this name, 
so says the official report, " could not be tolerated on 
the stage, especially in connection with a virtuous 

The Cloistered Victims, a drama written by Monvel 
(performed in 1791) and teeming with hatred towards the 
monks and clergy, could no longer be countenanced 
after the Concordat (1801). Laya's comedy, The Friend 
of the Law, had also become very impolitic in the course 
of events, for in his preface the author excused himself 
" for not having made a fool or a monster of the aristocrat 
he had put on the stage." 

And as for the Last Judgment of Kings, a savage scene 
written " to expose the former ' Messieurs ' to the derision 
of the sovereign people," it could not be tolerated by 
anyone who had visions of autocracy. 

In short there was nothing (that is, among plays at 
all popular) except Madame Angot, or the par venue 
fishwife, which was sure of being received with great 
satisfaction by everybody. The great advantage of 
Maillot's comic opera was, that by cutting out various 
parts, it could be performed entirely by men ; and the 
character of the fishwife, differing in this respect from 
parts such as those of Agnes,* or of princesses, was very 
easily impersonated by some intelligent trooper, who, 
by borrowing a dress and making a tow wig, could get 
himself up sufficiently well to take the part of a "Dame 
of the Markets." And another thing : not only was 
Madame Angot's speech of a realistic kind that was 
much appreciated by soldiers, but if the worst came 
to the worst, the actors could always fill up any lapse 
of memory by drawing on their own imagination, which 

* Moliere, VEcole des Femmes. This character has since remained the 
type of an ingenue. (Translator's note.) 


would have been a more serious matter in plays of any 
literary pretension ; especially as the revolutionary style 
then in vogue demanded pompous expressions, sonorous 
periods and redundant phraseology. 

Another remark concerning this Madame Angot 
who was the mother of an infinity of Madame Angots ! 
This stage creation of a fishwife grown rich, and making 
herself as ridiculous as she was pretentious, had a character 
of real comedy, and one can easily imagine the mirth 
that would be provoked by certain tirades in the play, 
the success of which depended on their being rattled 
off, by the actor, with extreme volubility, and in the hoarse 
tones of a market fishwife. 

Nothing, therefore, was more adaptable to the cir- 
cumstances ! All that was necessary was to pick out 
a scene here and there from the play, and these provided 
the materials of a humorous entertainment which was 
certain to bring down the applause of the whole audience. 

Referring to the plays that were performed by 
Parisian actors at Boulogne while the Grand Army was 
in camp, we may mention UHommage, an interlude by 
Lupart-Dercy, written in prose with songs, performed 
on August I5th, 1804, and Caution Money, or the Triumph 
of Honour, a comedy in three acts, by Mercier (performed 
August 30th, 1804). Mercier was then adjutant to the 
55th regiment of the line, encamped at Boulogne. There 
was a sentence in this play which was received with 
great applause, so much so, that Marshal Soult's atten- 
tion was attracted to it : " When there is fighting," said 
a colonel, " every soldier is a captain, and every captain 
is a soldier ; in battle there is not a warrior who does 
not deserve a crown." At the third performance the 
order was given to suppress these words, because they 
placed the officers and men on a footing of too much 
military equality. 


The author discovered a very rare copy of one of 
the plays that were performed before the officers by 
the Vaudeville company ; it is called Duguay-Trouin, 
Prisoner at Plymouth, "a historical fact, in two acts, 
performed for the first time at the Vaudeville in Paris 
on 24th Germinal, XII." 

The selection of this play was all the more appropriate 
as the story of the celebrated seaman's escape was very 
similar to the adventure of the famous privateer Thurot, 
to which we alluded in a preceding chapter. 

The characters of the piece are : " Duguay-Trouin " ; 
" Destaillandac," a Gascon surgeon; "Sir Bomston," 
Governor of the citadel at Plymouth ; " Madame 
Derval," related to " Duguay - Trouin " ; " Madame 
Prattler," an inn-keeper ; " Sir Bifteck," the Gover- 
nor's nephew. 

We cannot undertake to give the full details of the 
adventures by which the prisoner manages to escape from 
his jailers .... the play is far from being a master- 
piece, although it was written in collaboration with four 
different authors, Barre, Radet, Desfontaine and Saint- 
Felix, not including the composer who wrote the 

This vaudeville, which met with a good deal of success 
among the officers, contained many appropriate verses : 

(Sung to the tune of " William -the Conqueror.") 

Voyez nos superbes vaisseaux 
Partant, s'eloignant de la terre, 
Aux cris joyeux des matelots, 
Appeler et chercher la guerre. 
Que ce spectacle est ravissant ! 
Qu'il inspire un noble courage. 
Pour le suivre, 6 charme puissant ! 
Tous les coeurs quittent le rivage. 
Braves marins, rassemblez-vous, 


Courez, volez a la victoire, 
En repetant ces mots si doux, 
Ces mots sacres, ces mots si doux : 
Tout pour la gloire ! * 

The play closed with the following 3 
(Tune : " Bonaparte.") 
Le Francais 
Pour avoir la paix, 
A 1'Angleterre, 
Fait la guerre. 

Le Frangais veut que sur les eaux 
On respecte tous les vaisseaux. 

La Hollande et la Turquie 
Et 1'Espagne et la Russie 
Librement, paisiblement, 
Commenceront incessamment. 

Pour eluder un traite, 

L' Anglais s'est montre perfide ; 

Celui-ci sera solide, 

Le vainqueur 1'aura dicte. 

II faut que 1'ocean s'ouvre, 
Et qu'on puisse tout-a-coup, 
Aller, de Calais h Douvres, 
Comme de Paris a Saint-Cloud. f 
Etc., etc. 

* Literally : " See our superb ships are leaving and sailing fai from our 
shores, in search of war, amid the joyous shouts of sailors. How fine and in- 
spiriting is the sight, the magic of it draws all hearts from the shore in its wake. 
Brave sailors assemble and go to meet victory, repeating the sacred words : 
' All for glory ! All for glory.' " 

t Literally : " France, to secure peace, wages war against England. The 
Frenchman thinks that every vessel should be respected on the seas. Holland 
and Turkey, Spain and Russia, will soon begin to navigate in freedom and 
peace. England has proved herself perfidious in eluding a treaty ; the next 
one will stand, for the conqueror will dictate the terms. The ocean must be 
free, and it must be as safe to go from Calais to Dover as from Paris to Saint- 
Cloud," etc, 


" The Vaudeville company," writes Morand, " was 
summoned to act before the Emperor at Boulogne. 
The performances were to have lasted till September 
I7th, but they came to a close on the 3rd, and the de- 
parture of the army for Germany was the signal for the 
return of the actors to Paris. 

During the company's stay at Boulogne, ten boxes 
were reserved at the theatre for the Emperor, Prince 
Joseph, Prince Borghese, the Ministers, field officers, 
the admiral in command, the naval staff, and the author- 
ities. One can imagine the aspect the small " Salle 
Baret " presented, when all the boxes were occupied ; 
but, truth to tell, the personage who was the most 
eagerly looked-for, the Emperor, never put in an 

The Boulogne theatre followed the usual course in 
periods of political agitation, now giving proofs of devo- 
tion to the Republic by suppressing all passages con- 
sidered unpatriotic, now doing homage to the Empire, 
by bringing out plays appropriate to the new order of 
things, and written especially for the occasion. 

One of these plays, The Recruit and the Soldier, was 
written by the Academician Etienne, and performed at 
Boulogne in 1805. An impromptu prologue, called The 
Vaudeville at the Boulogne Camp, written by Barre, 
Radet, and Desfontaines, was acted for the first time 
by the comedians of the Paris Vaudeville, in the Boulogne 
theatre on August I7th, 1805. Barre had been appointed 
manager, and in his diploma " Manager of the Vaude- 
ville Company in London " as well : rather anticipating 
events ! 

It is said that this little play won for each of the 
authors a pension, which was given them by Napoleon. 

The performances of the Vaudeville, as I have already 
mentioned, came to a close on September 3rd, and in 


the meantime the army was preparing to depart for 
the glorious campaign in Germany. 

The actors of the Vaudeville bade farewell to the 
inhabitants of Boulogne in the following lines : 

Avec la peine au fond du coeur 
Chacun de nous ce soir vous quitte ; 
Et nous voyons avec douleur 
Que le plaisir passe si vite ! 

Le Vaudeville est un enfant 
Dont 1' aliment est Findulgence ; 
Quand il Fobtient il est content 
Et chante sa reconnaissance. 

Peut-etre un jour aupres de vous 
Nous reviendrons sur ce rivage ; 
Et cet espoir, pour nous si doux, 
Va charmer 1' ennui du voyage.* 

A small company from the theatre of " National 
Victories " in Paris, also gave several performances at 
Boulogne. This theatre, sometimes called the " Theatre 
du Bac," was established in the former chapel of the 
Recollette order, 85, Rue du Bac. The Order of Recol- 
lettes, the origin of which dates from the fifteenth century, 
was established in the Rue du Bac, according to a docu- 
ment among the records of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, 
dated August i8th, 1638. 

In 1664 it was endowed by Marie-Therese, and became 
a royal institution. According to a plan drawn up by 
Turgot, the convent buildings covered an area of 6,400 
metres, extending from the Rue de Grenelle to the old 

* " In bidding you farewell, our hearts are filled with sadness. And we 
realise with pain, that pleasure goes so quickly. The Vaudeville is but a 
child, who thrives on kindness shown him ; when it is given, he is quite 
happy, and expresses his joy in singing. Perhaps some day, we may return 
unto these shores to meet you, and this hope, to us so sweet, will soothe the 
tedious journey." 


Rue de la Planche. Some of the Recollette nuns formed 
the idea of organising a kind of public library close to 
the chapel, an innovation which was quite an event in 
the Faubourg Saint-Germain. People of education could 
therefore by permission of the Mother Superior and 
of their Confessor borrow the books, which were all 
carefully bound and catalogued, under the supervision 
of the " provincial Father " of the Order, who came 
once a year to inspect the convent library. 

A register of all the borrowed books was kept by 
one of the Recollette Sisters, " chosen from among 
them for her shrewdness and intelligence." 

The institution was still far from being a theatre, 
but the chapel soon became very much frequented by 
people of literary tastes, who were able to exchange 
their books after the services. 

Many of the Recollette nuns belonged by birth to 
the highest ranks of society, which at that period was 
very highly cultivated ; and this would explain how it 
was that the scheme of starting a literary library occurred 
to these religious ladies. 

So the convent was already invaded by literary 
people, before it was given over to the stage. 

Then came the Revolution ; the Order was suppressed, 
the buildings confiscated, and the chapel advertised to 
be let. No one, however, came forward as a tenant, and 
on September I7th, 1791, the chapel was transformed 
into the " Theatre of National Victories," in celebration 
of Bonaparte's glorious feats of arms. 

During the period that elapsed between 1789 and 
1799, no less than forty-five theatres were started in 

In 1794 the actor Potier, who had married an actress, 
Madelein Blandoin, made his mark at the theatre of 
National Victories, and from there went on tour in the 


provinces, to Brittany, Normandy, Picardy, etc. On 
his return from Boulogne he acted at the Varietes, the 
Porte Saint Martin, and Palais-Royal. 

Potier was very old and infirm when he left the 
boards ; on the night of his last appearance, he bade 
farewell to the public in a pathetic little impromptu, 
which I quote, because to my own knowledge, these 
modest and graceful lines have been plagiarised more 
than once : 

De vous plaire j'eus le bonheur 
Dans ma carriere dramatique. 
Mais 1'age arrete mon ardeur : 
Recevez les adieux de votre vieux comique. 
De vos bontes il va se separer ; \ 

Mais en songeant qu'il faut qu'il se retire, 
Pendant quinze ans, celui qui vous fit rire 
Ce soir, helas, se sent pret k pleurer.* 

The theatre of National Victories was closed in 1807, 
by a decree of the Emperor, who reduced the number 
of theatres in Paris to eight, and thought even that 
number quite sufficient. 

* " I had the good fortune to please you throughout my dramatic career. 
But age checks my spirit : accept your old comedian's farewell. The time 
has now come for him to retire, but while taking leave of your kindness, the 
man who, for fifteen years, made you laugh, is himself ready to weep." 



Games Marching Songs Soldiers' Choruses Dances Ball at 
the Boulogne Camp " Boulogne Camp March " performed 
by the Military Bands. 

THEATRICAL entertainments were not the only form of 
recreation in the camps : the men danced, amused them- 
selves in various ways, and sang when they were off 
duty, or when on the march, and the old soldiers, as 
well as the youngest recruits, indulged in these pastimes 
to their hearts' content. 

I must begin by quoting a few verses typical of those 
that were sung by the soldiers on the march, at this 
period, and regret that I am only able to give fragments 
of the songs, and scraps of stanzas. The reader will 
do well not to think of the rules of Parnassus while 
reading the following : 

D'Mont-Lambert, mais pas du Tape-cul 
On voit bien TAngleterre, 
Oui on la voit, car je 1'ai vue 
J'ai bien vu 1'Angleterre, j'ai vu, 
J'ai bien vu 1'Angleterre. 

D'Angleterre z'orons les ecus 
Qui ne nous cout'rons guere 
Oui elle en a plus que d'obus : 
Par tons tous pour la guerre, par tons, 
Partons tous pour la guerre ! 


D'Bonaparte on voit les soldats 
Couvrir toutes les terres, etc.* 

And other marching songs made a kind of musical 
see-saw, in which the characteristic names of the villages 
in the neighbourhood were introduced, making fantastic 
rhymes and rhythms : 

We go to Alincthun, 

And then to Olincthun, 

Some are at Raventhun 

And others at Bainc-thun ; 

Some are sent to Paincthun, 

Others to Florincthun, 

They pass through Raventhun 

And also Tourlincthun, 

They go to Terlincthun, 

And also Godincthun, 

Then to Verlincthun, etc. 

The following " litany " was sung to the old tune 
of "II pleut bergere " : 









* Literally : 

" From Mont -Lambert, though not from Tape-cul, 
England is quite visible ; 
Yes, quite visible, for I have seen, 
Seen England distinctly, I have seen, 
Seen England distinctly. 
We will get England's money, 
It will cost us nothing ; 
She has more of that than of shells : 
Let's all go to the war, let's all go, 
Let's all go to the war. 
One sees the soldiers of Bonaparte 
All over the earth . . ." etc., etc. 


And again the following, keeping step with the rhythm : 

Et Wimille, 
Or else : 

Waringzelle, etc. 


I must not omit to mention an amusing song which 
contained a celebrated pun, which was thought a good 
deal of in the neighbourhood : 

"Wimille, Wissant Neuville (8,809 villes) 
S'arment en guerre, 
Contr' 1'Angleterre," etc. 

We often find this method of using the names of 
localities in rhyme, adopted in popular songs ; this 
celebrated one, for instance, of the Chouans : 

Monsieur d'Charette a dit k ceux d'Ancenis : 

Mes amis ! 
Le roi va ramener la fleur de lys. 

Monsieur d'Charette a dit a ceux de Liroux : 

Mes bijoux ! 
Pour mieux tirer, mettez-vous a genoux. 

Monsieur d'Charette a dit a ceux d'Clisson : 

Le canon 
Fait mieux danser que le violon. 


Monsieur d'Charette a dit a ceux de Montfort : 

Frappez fort ! 
La fleur de lys defend centre la mort.* 

The French soldier, whether Chouan fighting for 
his King, or grenadier following his Emperor, is still 
the same brave fellow who scoffs at danger and 
rushes gaily into the fray, laughing and singing 
in turn. 

Nelson made several attacks on the flotilla, notably 
the one on the 28th Thermidor, IX. Towards midnight 
swarms of pinnaces made an unexpected attack, and 
it was said that Nelson had ordered wine and brandy 
to be served in large quantities to his men, to still further 
excite the great valour they gave proof of, more than 
once, in the Straits. But the French sailors were fully 
prepared, and the assailants were repulsed and compelled 
to retire. 

Wyant wrote some couplets in commemoration of 
this event ; they soon became very popular, and this 
one, for instance, is still remembered : 

Devant Boulogne, 

Nelson faisait un feu d'enfer ! 

Mais ce jour-la, plus d'un ivrogne 

* Literally: 

" Monsieur d'Charette told them at Ancenis : 

My friends ! 
The King will bring back the fleur-de-lys. 

Monsieur d'Charette told them at Liroux : 

My jewels ! 
To take better aim, go down on your knees. 

Monsieur d'Charette told them at Clisson : 

The cannon 
Is better music to dance to than the fiddle. 

Monsieur d'Charette told them at Montfort : 

Hit hard ! 
The fleur-de-lys shields you from death." 


Au lieu de vin, but 1'eau de mer 
Devant Boulogne ! * 

The soldiers of the Grand Army introduced popular 
tunes that were being sung all over the country, more 
or less, especially some verses from the comic opera of 
Madame Angot, already mentioned, which had such 
immense success when it first came out in 1796. For 
instance, the following was a popular chorus when on 
march or when bivouacking : 

Madame Angot s'avance, 

Mironton, mironton, mirontaine, 

Madame Angot s'approche 

Bien vite a petits pas, 

On lui donne le bras, 

De peur qu'elle ne tombat.f 

And sometimes the children of the Revolution, of which 
the Grand Army was composed, would sing the Ca ira 
of 1789, or the Carmagnole of 1792, in their barrack 
rooms or when on the march ; but these had to be sung 
in a whisper, so to say, because they had been prohibited 
by Bonaparte, from the time that he became First Consul. 
The last stanza was the most popular, and it was 
tolerated for obvious reasons : 

Sans craindre ni feu ni flamme, 

Le Frangais toujours vaincra, 

Ah ! $a ira, $a ira, ca ira ! 

* Literally: 

" Off Boulogne, 

Nelson poured hell-fire ! 
But on that day, many a toper 
Instead of wine, drank salt water, 
Off Boulogne ! " 
t Literally: 

" Madame Angot advances, 
Mironton, mironton, mirontaine, 
Madame Angot approaches 
Quite fast with little steps, 
Someone offers an arm, 
For fear that she should fall . . ." 


Le peuple en ce jour sans cesse repete 

Ah ! ga ira, ga ira, ca ira ! 

Malgre les mutins tout reussira ! * 
In reality, the tune of " Ca-ira " was nothing but a 
reproduction of the lively music to a set of quadrilles, 
called the " Carillon National," which Queen Marie 
Antoinette was fond of playing on her spinet. How 
little she thought that before long these strains would 
mingle with the shouts of death from a howling mob, 
clamouring around her blood-stained scaffold ! 

As for the Carmagnole, an anonymous song written 
in August, 1792, it was still more strictly prohibited by 
Bonaparte than even the Ca ira, and was only hummed 
by the soldiers. 

This hateful composition had enjoyed incredible 
popularity, and served as a signal for the risings of the 
mob, and an accompaniment to their bloodthirsty acts. 
It made its first appearance at the time that the vic- 
torious French troops entered Piedmont, of which Car- 
magnola f was the chief fortress. 

* Literally : 

" Without fearing shot or flame, 
The Frenchman will always conquer, 
Ah ! 9a ira, 9a ira, 9a ira ! 
The people to-day will now repeat 
Ah ! ?a ira, 93 ira, 9a ira ! 
In spite of rebels, all will succeed." 

f The following are the two first verses of this odious song : 
" Madame Veto avait promis 

De faire egorger tout Paris, 

Mais son coup a manque 

Grace a nos canonniers. 

Dansdns la Carmagnole 

Vive le son, vive le son, 

Dansons la Carmagnole 

Vive le son du canon. 

Monsieur Veto avait promis 

D'etre fidele a sa patrie 

Mais il y a manque 

Ne f aisons plus cartie' ! 

Dansons la Carmagnole 

Vive le son du canon." 


As already mentioned, it was the custom at concerts 
and theatres to introduce patriotic or religious anthems 
as interludes, followed by sentimental ditties by way 
of contrast. 

If anyone nowadays ventured to sing in public the 
" Hymn to the Supreme Being," for instance which 
the Boulogne Municipality, as well as the soldiers, in- 
serted in the programme of their festivities, would they 
not be accused of bigoted clericalism ? 

It is scarcely necessary to mention the Marseillaise 
among the patriotic songs then in vogue, and yet this 
poem, glowing with Republican fire, did not save the 
author, Rouge t de Lisle, from being denounced as a 
"suspect" and imprisoned. The Directory decreed 
(January 8th, 1795) that the Marseillaise should be sung 
at every public festival, together with a ira and the 
Chant du Depart (words by Chenier, music by Mehul, 


On the proclamation of the Empire, which was 
received with the greatest enthusiasm by the camp 
and the town of Boulogne, sailors and soldiers joined 
with the inhabitants to sing " Veillons au saint de 
l> Empire ! " 

The selection of these verses was happy and appro- 
priate to the circumstances ; but the reader must not 
suppose that because the word "Empire" occurs in the 
first verse, the lines were written expressly for this 
event. Not at all. The " Salut de la France," the 
original title of the song, dates from 1791, and is essen- 
tially a Republican effusion. The word " Empire " in 
the first line is simply put for the sake of rhyme, and as 
a synonym for Nation. When Roy wrote his " Re- 
publican couplets," he certainly never dreamt that 
they would soon be popularly known as the Imperial 
Anthem. The situation, of course, was saved by the 


first line, which seemed entirely suited to circum- 
stances in 1804 ; but the lines that follow clearly show 
that there was no monarchic intention in them origin- 
ally :- 

Veillons au salut de 1'Empire 

Veillons au maintien de nos droits ! 

Si le despotisme conspire, 

Corispirons la perte des rois ! 

Liberte, Liberte, que tout mortel te rende hommage 

Tremblez, tyrans ! vous allez expier vos forfaits ! 

Plutot la mort que 1'esclavage, 

C'est la devise des Francais. 

Du salut de notre Patrie 

Depend celui de Tunivers, 

Si jamais elle est asservie, 

Tous les peuples sont dans les fers, 

Liberte, Liberte, etc., etc.* 

We gather, from various letters written at the time 
of the Boulogne camp, that the game of " loto " was one 
of the recreations indulged in by the officers and men 
in their huts. At nightfall, a group of men would gather 
round the fortunate possessor of a loto set, and sit at 
a rough-and-ready table, by the light of a smoking 
tallow-dip, fixed on the board between three stones. 

Those who were lucky held the loto-cards ; but the 
forty or fifty good fellows standing behind the players 
would get just as much fun out of the proceedings by 

* Literally : 
" Let us watch over the safety of the Empire, and the preservation of our 

Rights ! 

If Despotism, conspires against us, we will plot the destruction of Kings! 
Liberty, Liberty, all mortals must bow to thee ! 
Tyrants tremble, you will soon atone for your crimes ! 
Death rather than slavery, is the motto for Frenchmen. 

The fate of the world depends on the safety of our Country. 
Should she be enslaved, all the nations will be slaves. 
Liberty, Liberty," etc., etc. 


challenging and backing their comrades, cutting jokes 
at their expense, and keeping an eye open for possible 
cheating ; for anyone caught in the act, was liable to 
a penalty of a box on the ear from each of those present. 
Sporting bets were made on the winners, and debts paid 
with packets of tobacco and rations of brandy. 

The reader will probably think that no special aptitude 
is required for playing loto, and that anyone can be- 
come proficient in the game without necessarily making 
a careful study of the rules. To make the game more 
exciting, the soldiers of the First Empire tried to com- 
plicate it as much as possible, by giving each number 
some fantastic name, so that the mistakes and blunders 
of the players were infinite, to the intense amusement 
of the whole company. 

For instance, No. i was called " The beginning of 
the world " ; No. 2, " the little chicken " ; No. 3, " the 
Jew's ear " ; No. 4, " the commissary's hat " ; No. 5, 
" the cobbler's awl " ; No. 7, " the gallows " ; No. 31, 
" day of starvation, misery in Prussia " (so-called be- 
cause in the Army of the Rhine, the soldiers' pay was 
reckoned by the month of thirty days the thirty-first 
was not considered at all) ; No. 48 was called " the alarm 
gun " ; and when No. 89 appeared, everyone had to 
shout in chorus, " the Revolution ! " 

If the soldiers made a mistake in the names, they 
had to pay forfeits, which provided the French troopers 
with many opportunities of giving free vent to their 
proverbial gaiety. 

Then there was dancing in the Right and Left Camps, 
as well as at the Plateau d'Odre and at Chatillon. 

The commanding officers not only permitted this 
practice but encouraged it, to keep the men active and 
well disposed. A fisherwoman's cap, or a madras hand- 
kerchief tied " fishwife " fashion round the younger 


warriors' heads, served to distinguish the " ladies " 
from the men. Indeed, it was the only distinction, 
since the performance of these dancers was remarkable, 
presumably, neither for grace nor lightness of step. But 
that did not matter ; the quadrilles were all the more 
novel for that very reason, and the gallops ended in a 
whirl of dizziness to the accompaniment of the wildest 
music and the beating of drums. 

As I have already observed, dancing was encour- 
aged in the various camps by the commanding officers 
themselves ; for instance, in an Order of the Day dated 
24th Thermidor, XII., the following article is inserted 
in the programme of festivities for the celebration of 
"St. Napoleon's Day " : " Dancing may be indulged 
in, in the rear of each camp." And every advantage 
was taken of this permission. 

There was a certain fencing-master, it appears, called 
Morland, who, in addition to his ordinary duties, took 
upon himself the office of " dancing-master " to the 

Frequently of an evening he would take up a violin, 
which he could play sufficiently for the purpose, at all 
events and teach the soldiers, who delighted in these 
simple amusements. Towards the end of the dancing 
lesson, the best pupils formed sets of quadrilles, and 
according to a narrative of the time, " the fencing-master 
would always tell them facetiously : ' Now don't forget 
to engage from the left foot ! ' 

Napoleon used to watch these games from behind 
the lattice of his dining-room window, and nothing 
amused him more than to watch the " sappers of the 
Army of Italy and Egypt rounding their arms and hold- 
ing their tunics daintily between finger and thumb." 

Morland, who was well aware of the Emperor's 
feelings in this respect, used sometimes to organise 


immense round dances near the pavilion, which were 
entered into with the real French spirit and vivacity 
by hundreds of soldiers, all shouting together the chorus 
of the " Invasion of England " : 

Traverser le detroit 
N'est pas la mer a boire ! 

Napoleon never interfered ; but the instant the 
retreat was sounded, he opened the window and called 
out : 

" Very good. Now I am going to work, and you 
must go to bed. Good-night ! " 

The window was then closed and absolute silence 
prevailed, except for the roll of drums that was echoed 
in the far distance along the sand-hills. 

As an amusement for the daytime, the Marines of 
the Guard had started the idea of making tiny boats, 
rigged with large sails and running on wheels, which 
enabled them to race on the sands when the wind was 
favourable. For at that period the ledges of rock which 
we see nowadays did not exist ; when the little boats 
were unskilfully handled, they were wrecked on the 
sand, to the great amusement of the spectators. 

Napoleon, who attached great importance to the 
soldiers being kept in good training, took care to en- 
courage their sports by presiding over the horse- and 
foot-racing, and always gave prizes varying from 20 to 
300 francs. 

In conclusion, I must give some account of the 
" Boulogne Camp Ball," at which Napoleon was present, 
and even danced, according to one of his chroniclers. 

There are letters extant and carefully preserved by 
private families in Boulogne, that refer to the grand ball 
the marshals and generals resolved to give in Napoleon's 
honour, as soon as they were informed^ of his plans of 


returning to Paris to superintend the preparations for 
his Coronation. 

Napoleon accepted the invitation, and fixed October 
1 7th as the date ; whereupon General Bertrand, as 
Grand Master of the Ceremonies, issued invitations, on 
behalf of the generals, to the most important people 
of the town ; as for the officers, none under the rank of 
major were invited. The ladies, of course, lost no time 
in planning and ordering the most elegant toilettes for 
this unique occasion. 

As there was no hall sufficiently large to accommodate 
the guests, the naval carpenters set to work and erected 
a temporary ball-room, which was beautifully decorated 
with garlands and trophies by the engineers. 

On the eventful night, the ball opened with a triumphal 
march called the " Boulogne Camp March," composed 
by Lesueur, who afterwards became the court musical 
director. It was performed by the massed bands of 
twenty regiments. I shall allude again to this musical 
composition further on. 

The aides-de-camp, acting as stewards, went for- 
ward to meet the ladies as they appeared, and presented 
each with a bouquet. The commanding officers were 
resplendent in their uniforms, richly embroidered with 
gold thread and diamonds, which had been ordered 
from Paris expressly for the occasion. The wife of 
Marshal Soult, who acted as hostess, wore a gown of 
black velvet, bespangled with glittering stones of the 

Besides the uniforms, there were costumes more or 
less fantastic, but very decorative ; Marshal Augereau, 
for instance, was so gorgeous in his suit of pansy-coloured 
velvet and gold, white satin breeches, spangled silk 
stockings, and powdered wig not to omit his old Re- 
publican sword that the Emperor, who was simply 


wearing the uniform of a Colonel in the Guards, burst 
out laughing on seeing the splendour of his " old brother 
in arms," as he called him, addressing him with good- 
humoured banter. 

The different bands performed various pieces in 
turn, and then dancing began. The Emperor remained 
present for an hour, and danced " La Boulangere " 
with Madame Bertrand. 

General Bisson, " a big general with a big protuber- 
ance," was entrusted with the care and management 
of the supper, which was most recherche. Indeed, it is 
maliciously reported that the Boulogne ladies, seeing a 
profusion of cakes, sweets, and delicacies of all kinds 
displayed on the board, showed no scruple in filling 
their pockets with dainties from purely charitable 
motives, no doubt, and a laudable desire to take back tasty 
mementoes of the feast to their less fortunate lady friends. 

What was the " Boulangere," and why did Napoleon 
dance it in preference to any other figure in the French 
quadrille ? 

I think we may safely assume that it was its very 
simplicity which recommended it to Napoleon, who 
had a great objection to appearing at a disadvantage, 
if only in a dance, and who certainly had no intention 
of devoting any time to mastering the intricacies of the 
other figures. 

The " Pantalon " and " Ete " figures were rather 
complicated ; the " Poule," which had only lately been 
invented by a man named Julien, was supposed to be 
accompanied by a noise imitating the clucking of a 
hen, which made it rather vulgar ; while the finale 
of the quadrille was too much of a gallop for a somewhat 
heavy dancer. In short, the Boulangere, or " Pastour- 
elle," was the only figure that had the advantage of 
being dignified and easily accomplished. 


A " Guide to Dancing," dating from the beginning 
of the last century, describes the movement as follows : 
the couples join hands and form a ring four steps 
forward, then four backwards ; finally each man 
in succession waltzes round with the lady on 
his left. 

There was certainly nothing very complicated about 
this performance, and it just suited Napoleon. 

This reminds one of the childish games of " Puss-in- 
the-corner " that Napoleon used to indulge in with his 
intimates at Malmaison. As he objected to standing 
for long, doing " puss " among a set of young people 
who skilfully evaded all attempts at being lured from 
their corners, Bonaparte was seldom at a loss for some 
little ruse to recover his place. On one occasion, finding 
the wait rather tedious, he had recourse to the following 
expedient : Hortense de Beauharnais was guarding her 
corner so tenaciously, that Bonaparte feigned discourage- 
ment, and began to walk about, apparently quite in- 
different to all further proceedings. Then, suddenly 
pretending to be struck with the elegant frock his step- 
daughter was wearing, he came up to her, expressing 
admiration in his gestures, and took her by the hand, 
inviting her to turn round, so as to display all her finery. 
The young girl, naturally much flattered, moved un- 
suspectingly from her tree, and the First Consul, seizing 
his opportunity, made one bound for the corner and 
secured it. 

During Napoleon's periods of relaxation at Mal- 
maison, many a game of " Prisoners' Base" was played 
between Bonaparte, de Lauriston, Eugene de Beau- 
harnais, de Bourrienne, Isabey, Rapp, and several ladies, 
among whom was Hortense de Beauharnais. 

Napoleon, who was more impetuous than anybody, 
often tripped and fell to the ground, but he always picked 


himself up nimbly, and was the first to laugh at his mis- 

For a whole month, so it appears from various letters 
dating from that period, there was talk of nothing else 
but the Imperial Ball, and the incidents that had occurred 
in connection therewith ; and one can scarcely imagine 
the number of political conversions it occasioned. 

The author, himself a Boulonnais, could give some 
interesting information on the subject, were it not in- 
discreet. He could tell, for instance, which of the men, 
who were loudest in their praise of the new sovereign, 
had been fierce Republicans only the day before ; 
and which others, now honestly rallying round the new 
regime, had been irreconcilable royalists up to that 
day. The outburst of loyalty towards the new Emperor 
was, in fact, so general, that it might well excite our 
wonder, were it not that we know by .official records 
that the same state of feeling prevailed all over the 
country at that time. 

But when the population of the Boulonnais attached 
itself to the Imperial regime, it was not merely following 
a natural popular instinct of turning towards the " rising 
sun." Napoleon seemed to most men the embodiment 
of the glory of France ; and the very people who dis- 
liked him reflected that, after all, his regime had done 
away with that of the guillotine, and that he had re- 
placed the Reign of Terror by a succession of victories. 

The Reign of Terror had not sent nobles alone to 
fill the prisons at Boulogne and Arras, for people of the 
humbler classes were incarcerated as well bakers, lock- 
smiths, brewers, grocers, shoemakers, and hair-dressers. 
On October 2nd, 1793, the revolutionary Tribunal had 
sent the Abbe Butteau to the guillotine, erected in the 
Place du Palais de Justice, at Boulogne ; while Louis 
Legris, a small shopkeeper at Desvres, had to atone 


on the scaffold for his " devotion to tyranny and 
fanaticism " an accusation as vague as it was terrible, 
since there was but little chance of his being able to 
offer any defence that would avail him at all. 

The distinguished composer Lesueur, to whom I have 
already alluded as being the author of the " March " 
performed on the occasion of the Imperial Ball, was a 
native of Abbeville, and the son of poor peasants. When 
still quite a child, his passion for music was suddenly 
aroused one day as he was following a military band along 
the high road. The stirring strains of the martial music 
made an indelible impression on him, and most probably 
influenced his future compositions, which attracted 
Bonaparte's attention. When he brought out his first 
opera, The Bards, he received a valuable recognition 
of his great talents a gold snuff-box bearing this in- 
scription : " From the Emperor to the author of The 
Bards" The box also contained 6,000 francs in notes. 
Lesueur was one of the founders of the Conservatoire 
of Music in Paris. 

Soon after his stay in Boulogne, he composed an 
opera in honour of his benefactor, in which he intro- 
duced the episode of Napoleon burning, at Princess 
Hatzfeldt's entreaty, the incriminating letter that clearly 
proved her husband's treason. 

The author has tried to find the theme of the March 
of the Boulogne Camp among the works of Lesueur, 
but the task was made difficult from the fact that Lesueur 
was in the habit of altering his compositions, and bringing 
them out under new titles ; his revolutionary songs, 
for instance, were transformed into church music, and 
vice versa. In fact, he indulged in what one might call 
a sort of " musical cookery." 

In the first place, there is a " Coronation Mass " 


by Lesueur which terminates with a march and " vivat," 
of which the following is the initial theme : 

In spite of the name given to this Mass, it was not 
performed at Notre-Dame for the First Emperor ; it 
was only written after the event, in view of an 
imaginary coronation ceremony. 

However, there is a military march among the musical 
records in Paris, bearing this inscription : " Coronation 
March of H.M. the Emperor, music by Lesueur, re-set 
by H. Courtin, professor of harmony at the Conserva- 
toire, by order of Lieutenant-General Baron Pelet," 
and we have every reason to believe that this must be 
the march, especially as the breadth and fulness of the 
composition seem to indicate that it was- intended to 
be performed by the massed bands of twenty regiments. 

The following is the theme : 

To conclude this chapter, I must quote Morand's 
verses on the breaking up of the Camp of Boulogne. 
Grenadier's 'farewell to the Camp of Boulogne: 

Le tambour bat, il faut partir, 

Ailleurs on nous appelle, 
Oui, de lauriers il va s'ouvrir 

Une moisson nouvelle. 
Si la-bas ils sont assez fous 

Pour troubler FAllemagne, 
Tant pis pour eux, tant mieux pour nous 

Allons vite en campagne ! 


Adieu mon cher petit jardin 

Ma baraque jolie, 
Toi que j'ai plante de mes mains 

Et toi que j'ai batie, 
Puisqu'il faut prendre le mousquet 

Et laisser ma chaumiere, 
Je m'en vais planter le piquet 

Par dela la frontiere. 

Adieu, pigeons, poulets, lapins, 

Et ma chatte gentille, 
Autour de moi, chaque matin, 

Rassembles en famille. 
Toi, mon chien, ne me quitte pas, 

Compagnon de ma gloire 
Par tout tu dois suivre mes pas, 

Ton nom est la Victoire ! 

Adieu, peniches et bateaux, 

Prames et canonnieres, 
Qui deviez porter sur les eaux 

Nos vaillants militaires. 
Vous, ne soyez pas si contents, 

Messieurs de la Tamise! 
Seulement pour quelques instants 

La partie est remise. . . . 



The Distribution of Crosses of the Legion of Honour Oath 
of the Legionaries Napoleon's Stone The Column of 
Napoleon the Great and Marshal Soult The Legion 
of Honour and the Women Officers. 

THE memory of two great events will for ever be con- 
nected with Napoleon's stay at Boulogne namely, the 
solemn distribution of Crosses of the Legion of Honour, 
and the laying of the foundation stone of the Column 
of the Grand Army. 

The great pomp displayed at the distribution of 
Crosses at the Camp of Boulogne on August i6th, 1804, 
has drawn the attention of historians specially to this 

But the foundation of the Order really dates from 
May igth, 1802 ; and the first distribution of Crosses 
was made in the Chapel of the Invalides, on July i5th 
or i6th, 1804. 

In spite of appearances to the contrary, the in- 
stitution of the Legion of Honour was not incompatible 
with the principles laid down in the Constitution of 
1791, which " decreed the suppression in France of 
all orders of chivalry and badges of distinction." For 
though the decree is certainly worded in these terms, 
we find, on reading the rest of the text, that the law 
only referred to those Orders that implied distinctions 



of birth, which, of course, was quite opposed to the 
new principle of equality among citizens. 

But further than this, the Constitution announced 
the intention of creating a single National Order, to 
be awarded, not for mere accident of birth, but for 
personal merit, " founded on valour, talents, and ser- 
vices rendered to the country." 

It was this very distinction, conferable on military 
men and civilians alike, that Bonaparte intended to 
establish when he instituted the Legion of Honour. 

When First Consul, he had really anticipated the 
creation of this Order by issuing a decree (4th Ventose, 
VIII.) that weapons of honour, such as muskets, swords, 
carbines, and trumpets, should be given as a reward 
for military services. These presentation weapons were 
made in silver, or were silver-mounted, and had an in- 
scription of the soldier's name, and the date of the action 
in which he had distinguished himself. Later on, the 
Council of State decreed that in case of the soldiers 
dying without having disposed of these arms in a will, 
they should be sent to the mayor of the district, who 
was to give them into the hands of the heirs, or deposit 
them in some " respectable place." 

It would have been improper for a weapon of honour 
to be put up to auction, or displayed discreditably 
in the window of a second-hand shop. 

When Bonaparte proposed the creation of the Legion 
of Honour, which was to confer the same distinction on 
both the military and civil services, " inasmuch as they 
had an equal claim to the gratitude of the nation," he 
met with the most violent opposition. It was contended 
that the projected Order of Chivalry would lead to a 
renewal of aristocracy, and that ribbons and crosses 
were the baubles of sovereignty. 

" I defy you," replied Bonaparte, " to point out 


one single Republic, either ancient or modern, where 
there have not been awards of distinction. They call 
them baubles ? Well, it is by baubles that men are 

And the scheme which the Constitution of 1791 had 
intended to realise was finally carried out by the First 
Consul, who expressed the opinion that " it was necessary 
to have one single distinction which would reward all 
kinds of merit." 

Bonaparte came in person to support the motion 
in the Council of State, and this was adopted by the 
Tribunal (50 votes against 38) and by the Corps Legis- 
latif (166 votes against no). 

The decoration of the Order has undergone various 
modifications in the course of time and of different 
regimes, but the following is a description of the badge 
as Napoleon wished it to be, after the decree of July, 
1804 : 

" The decoration shall consist of a star with five 
double rays. The centre of the star, surrounded with 
a wreath of oak, and laurel leaves, shall bear, on one 
side, the head of the Emperor, with the legend : ' Napo- 
leon, Emperor of the French ' ; and on the other, the 
Imperial Eagle, holding a thunderbolt, with this other 
legend : ' Honour and Country.' The badge shall be 
enamelled in white ; shall be in gold for the grand 
officers, commanders, and officers ; and in silver for the 
legionaries. It shall be worn on a buttonhole of the 
tunic, and attached to a red moire ribbon." 

At first the Legion was only composed of a Grand 
Council and sixteen cohorts, comprising seven grand 
officers, twenty commanders, thirty officers, and 350 
legionaries. In 1814 Louis XVIII. agreed to maintain 
the Legion, for fear of making as many enemies as there 
were legionaries in France ; but he replaced the effigy 


of Napoleon by that of Henri IV., and the eagle by the 
fleur-de-lys, and finally substituted the class of " Grand 
Cross, or Grand Cordon," for the class of " Grand Eagle," 
which had been established by an Imperial decree on 
January gth, 1805. 

The Emperor having fixed the date for the distribu- 
tion of the Crosses at the Boulogne Camp, the mayor 
of the town, wishing to join in the demonstration to 
be made on this occasion, addressed this stirring pro- 
clamation to the inhabitants : 


" The 28th Thermidor is the fete day of Napoleon, 
to whom France has entrusted her happiness and glory. 

" On that day, the men who have most distinguished 
themselves are to receive the prize awarded to valour and 
worth, at the hands of the greatest of all warriors and the 
best of princes. Men of Boulogne ! A vast army is assembled 
outside your walls. These brave men, so often victorious, 
command our confidence. The army will fulfil its high 
destiny. We have already given proof of our devotion to 
Napoleon, and our admiration for the brave men he has 
summoned here to punish England, and force her to submit 
to the law of nations. 

" The town of Boulogne must re-echo with our shouts of 
joy, and with expressions of our love and gratitude to the 
august monarch France has chosen. 

" It is pleasant to reflect that the fete of the 28th Ther- 
midor will take place on the anniversary of a glorious day, 
for on this memorable date Nelson was defeated in the 

" (Mayor), 


" (Assistants). 
Thermidor, XII." 


Instead of giving the descriptions of the ceremony 
from various books which the reader can refer to for 
himself, I will quote from the narratives of two eye- 
witnesses, who wrote their impressions on the very day 
of the event. The following article appeared in the 
Journal des D<?bats the day after the ceremony of August 
i6th, 1804 : 

" I witnessed to-day the most magnificent martial 
display ever made by any people, for the finest army 
in the world was assembled under the eyes of the great 
Chief who had so often led these men to victory, and 
who was awarding them ' prizes of honour ' for their 

" Not far from Boulogne (between Moulin Hubert 
and Terlincthun), the ground shelves down into a hollow, 
and the gradual slopes leading to it form a natural 
amphitheatre, opening out towards the cliffs. A throne 
was placed in the centre of the amphitheatre ; it was 
uncovered, and simply adorned with trophies of arms 
and flags, such as befitted a commander of soldiers. 
The Emperor was seated on the throne of one of the 
kings of the first dynasty, and had Prince Jerome on 
his right. Behind him were the grand officers of the 
Crown, and to the right and left of him were the Ministers, 
Marshals of the Empire, and the Generals. His Majesty's 
aides-de-camp stood in front on the steps of the throne, 
and at the foot, seats were placed at the right, for Coun- 
cillors of State and foreign officers, and to the left 
for civil and religious dignitaries. The rest of the space 
was occupied by the Imperial Guard ; by the band, on 
one side, and 2,000 drums on the other ; and at the 
extremities stood the General Staff of the whole army 
and the General Staff of the different camps. 

" From his throne the Emperor could see the two 
camps, the batteries, the entrance to the harbour, and 


part of the roadstead to his right ; while to the left 
he had a view of Wimereux and of the coast of England. 
In front were massed twenty columns and sixty regiments, 
covering half the circle of the amphitheatre. In front 
of these men, and closer to the throne, were stationed 
the legionaries of all ranks and arms. The different 
columns stretched over continually rising ground till 
the extremity of each reached the summits occupied 
by twenty squadrons in battle array. Behind these, 
again, was an immense crowd of spectators, and also 
the tents reserved for the ladies. 

" The ordering of the ceremonial was perfectly simple 
and most imposing. The Emperor left his pavilion at 
midday, and his arrival was announced by a salute 
fired from all the batteries along the coast. At the same 
moment the sun burst out upon the scene, and the wind 
that blew served to make the flags wave. 

" The moment the Emperor appeared, the 2,000 
drums beat a salute, while the cheers of the soldiers 
and people proclaimed the enthusiasm excited by his 

" Then the drums beat the charge, and all the columns 
were instantly set in motion and closed in. 

" Everyone was thrilled with martial ardour at this 
splendid movement. The Grand Chancellor of the Legion 
of Honour then made a speech, which was followed by 
a rolling of drums ; after which his Majesty took the 

" Then the whole army, moved by a spontaneous 
outburst of feeling, repeated the oath of fidelity and 
devotion, and ringing cheers of ' Vive I'Empereur / ' 
re-echoed from all the ranks, the soldiers brandishing 
their weapons and waving their flags in manifestation 
of their enthusiasm. 

" The grand officers, commanders, officers and 


legionaries then moved towards the throne, and were pre- 
sented by the Minister of War to the Emperor, who 
handed the Badge of the Eagle to each individual hero. 

" It was grand to see the Marshals of the Empire, 
generals, State Councillors, prefects, bishops, soldiers, 
and sailors, in succession, receive the prize of honour 
from the hands of the Emperor ; he knew them all, 
and welcomed them as his companions in arms and 
glory. Several officers held the Crosses, which were 
placed in the shields and helmets of Duguesclin and 

" Altogether, there was infinite charm and grandeur 
in the whole scene ; first, the brilliant army of brave 
men, the camps, and ports, that Napoleon had made ; 
then the cliffs, re-echoing with me sound of the waves 
and the roaring of cannon ; the white cliffs of England 
in the far distance ; the rays of the sun piercing through 
the clouds, to shine on the solemn scene ; the ships 
of the enemy driven back by the gale and disappearing 
through the mist of the horizon ... all these things, 
combining with the magic of the Emperor's presence, 
created an impression which it is impossible to express. 

" One thing only was wanting to make the mag- 
nificent picture complete. The fleet had been unable 
to leave the harbour, but the Emperor's star had guided 
one from Havre. Just as the columns were extending 
and spreading on to the neighbouring slopes (so as to 
form only one column, as the different brigades were 
to march past, in succession, before the throne), a flotilla 
of fifty sail, part of the Havre fleet, doubled the Point of 
Alprech. All eyes were turned towards the sea, and 
great joy prevailed at the sight of the tribute the ocean 
was paying to the fete of the Empire ; the convoy, which 
was six months overdue, arrived just at the solemn 


" The Emperor spent the evening at the pavilion, 
and all the legionaries were entertained at tables pre- 
sided over by Prince Joseph, the Ministers of War and 
of the Navy, Marshal Soult, and Admiral Bruix ; the 
Emperor's health was drunk amid the greatest enthusiasm, 
and a salvo of artillery from the coast batteries accom- 
panied the toast. 

" The fireworks had to be postponed till the next 
day, because of the wind. There will be target-firing 
practice and horse races during the day, and a ball at 
the theatre in the evening." 

On glancing over the wording of the oath of the 
legionaries, such as it was determined upon by the 
law of 29th Floreal, X., it seems clear that Bonaparte's 
intention in creating the Order, was to establish, not a 
privileged class, but a directing force, a kind of general 
staff for the nation, rather than a body of men devoted 
to his person. 

No doubt, when the Crosses were distributed at 
Boulogne, the Emperor desired that the oath of fidelity 
to himself should be added to the usual formula. But 
the ordinary wording was couched in the following terms 
(by the law above mentioned), for the purpose of estab- 
lishing the Order as the natural guardian and defender 
of the institutions of modern France : 

" Every individual admitted in the Legion must swear, 
on his honour, to devote himself to the service of the Republic 
and the preservation and integrity of the territory ; to 
defend the Government, the laws, and property ; to use 
every means sanctioned by reason, justice, and the law, in 
combating all enterprises which tend to the re-establishment 
of the feudal system, and of the titles which belonged to 
it ; and, finally, to co-operate to the utmost of his power in 
maintaining Liberty and Equality." 

The following narrative was written by a Boulogne 


correspondent to the Journal de Paris, and although it 
repeats several details already given in the preceding 
account of the ceremony of August i6th, I will quote 
some passages which serve to confirm the foregoing 
description : 

" The Emperor had fixed the day of the ' Feast of 
St. Napoleon ' for the distribution of the Crosses . . . 
and the army was made responsible for the pomp and 
dignity of the ceremonial. The site for the display 
was chosen close to the Emperor's pavilion, and the 
natural formation of the ground was especially suited 
to the grouping of the 100,000 men who were to take 
part in the show, and enjoy the grand spectacle them- 
selves. The general plan of the place resembled that 
of an antique theatre, the tiers of which were represented, 
in this case, by the natural slope of the land. 

" The throne of the Emperor was placed in the centre, 
and raised on a mound, after the ancient custom that 
prevailed in the camps of the Caesars, when they wished 
to harangue their troops. The platform on which it 
stood was sixteen feet square and eight feet high, and 
surrounded with flags surmounted with golden eagles. 

" In the middle of the platform, stood the ancient 
chair of King Dagobert ; flags and standards taken at 
Montenotte, Arcole, Rivoli, Castiglione, the Pyramids, 
Aboukir, and Marengo were grouped so as to form a 
canopy to the throne. In the centre of this trophy, 
was the suit of armour of an Elector of Hanover, and 
a garland of gold laurel leaves formed a huge wreath 
over the whole. Prince Joseph, the Ministers, Marshals 
of the Empire, admirals, grand officers of the Crown, 
and generals, stood around the throne ; and in the rear 
of this brilliant group were stationed captains, from all 
the army corps, holding flags. The Grand Chancellor 
of the Order was at the foot of the throne, and the aides- 


de-camp, stationed on the sixteen steps leading up to 
it, received and transmitted the Emperor's orders ; 
below the aides-de-camp were two groups of legionaries 
who had already received the Cross, and the enemies' 
flags arranged as trophies, waved above their heads. 
The Crosses were placed in the helmets and shields 
of Bayard and Duguesclin. I saw more than one man 
touch Bayard's shield reverently with his lips, observing : 
' I am to receive the meed of valour from the armour 
of the truest of knights ! ' " 

I must add a few supplementary lines taken from 
Bertrand's " History of Boulogne," which will serve 
to explain the placing of the army on this occasion : 

" In rear of the platform was the Imperial Guard, 
flanked on one side by the military bands, and on the 
other by 2,000 drums ; and at each extremity of the 
line were the general staffs of the different camps. The 
line, which was about 300 yards (150 toises), was the 
base of the semi-circle on which the army was stationed. 

" Sixty regiments radiated in twenty columns from 
the centre, and reached as far as the summit of the 
slopes, which were occupied by twenty squadrons in 
battle array." 

Among the details mentioned by all the contempo- 
raries respecting the ceremony of August i6th, is one 
that deserves special notice. The Emperor, they say, 
was seated on the ancient throne of King Dagobert, 
and the Crosses of the Order were deposited in the 
time-honoured helmets and shields of Duguesclin and 

The author considered the question sufficiently in- 
teresting to warrant his making some researches on the 
subject, and hoped, naturally, to find documents relating 
to it in the offices of the Grand Chancellor of the Order ; 
but, unfortunately, most of the records were destroyed 



by fire in 1871. However, the foregoing narratives of 
eye-witnesses are sufficiently authenticated by the fact 
that they were reproduced textually in the Moniteur 
Universel of the period, and also in the " Annual 
Record of the 
Legion of Hon- 
our ' for 1805, 
published by 
Lavallee and 
Perrotte. Added 
to this, the fact 
that "the Crosses 
were deposited 
in the helmets 
and shields of 
Duguesclin and 
Bayard" is men- 
tioned by the 
various chronic- 
lers of the Order : 
Mazas, de Cham- 
beret, Bonneville 
de Marsangy. 

Still, the au- 
thor wanted to 
know where these 
precious relics 
are kept at pre- 
sent. The director of the Military Museum informed 
him in a letter, of December I2th, 1905, that the armour 
of the two illustrious warriors is not in that museum. 

The old catalogues do, it is true, allude to Bayard's 
armour and Duguesclin's sword, but the new catalogues 
make no mention of them. 

As for the historical chair of King Dagobert, of which 


Used by Napoleon when he distributed the Crosses of 
the Legion of Honour at Boulogne. 


we give an illustration, it is kept in the room of an- 
tiquities in the " Bibliotheque Nationale " so the author 
was informed in December, 1905, by the Director of 
National Museums. 

Referring to the form of Oath for the Legionaries, 
which was pronounced by the Grand Chancellor (Count 
Lacepede), the Moniteur Universel of August igth, 
1804, published the following : 

" The Emperor, in administering the oath to the 
members, added these words to the usual formula : 
' And you, soldiers, do you swear to defend, at the 
peril of your lives, the honour of the French name, of 
your country, and of your Emperor ? ' One hundred 
thousand voices shouted in response : ' We swear ! ' 
And in the same moment the soldiers, swayed by excess 
of enthusiasm, raised their shakos and bearskins on their 
bayonets and waved them frantically in the air, shouting 
over and over again, ' Vive VEmpereur ! ' 

" The Emperor himself handed the Crosses to all 
the military men and to the religious and civil function- 
aries who had won the distinction. The whole army 
then marched past the throne, taking three hours to do 
so. The Emperor did not leave the throne until seven 

Napoleon, in accordance with the principles which 
had prompted him to re-establish religious worship in 
France, desired that a place of honour should be reserved 
for the clergy on this solemn occasion. Accordingly, 
when he and General Bertrand settled upon the main 
features of the great ceremony, he ordered that the 
church dignitaries should be grouped immediately next 
to the throne. 

He also directed that a solemn Te Deum should be 
sung in the Church of St. Nicolas on the very day of 
the distribution of the Crosses. The Bishop of Arras 


officiated with great pomp, and the Emperor, wishing 
to prove his friendliness towards the head of the clergy 
in the district, nominated the Prelate among the very 
first of the Legionaries who were to receive the Cross from 
his hands. 

The display of fireworks arranged for the evening of 
the fete had to be postponed, because of the gale that 
had sprung up towards the end of the ceremony. 

" The next day, at nine o'clock, a loud report from 
the Left Camp gave the signal for the display, and the 
rampart and cliffs of the Tour d'Odre were very soon 
thronged with spectators. The Emperor went to his 
pavilion, and in an instant the sky was lit up with 
thousands of luminous bombs and innumerable rockets, 
while 15,000 Roman candles shot up their stars in a 
ceaseless stream from the Left Camp. Subsequently, 
the town* ramparts, and triumphal arches were all 
illuminated, and a brilliant ball closed the fete, in which 
had been displayed all that is most imposing in military 

To commemorate the distribution, a small marble 
obelisk was erected at the expense of the State on the 
very spot which the Emperor's throne had occupied ; 
it stands a short distance out of Boulogne, about two 
hundred metres off the road leading to Wimereux, 
and is known in the district under the name of " Napo- 
leon's Stone." There are several inscriptions on the 
monument. Facing south are the words : 




The side facing east is engraved with a design of a cross 
of the Order. On the northern side is the following 
inscription : 






Lastly, on the western face, is a plan of the disposition 
of the troops round the Imperial throne. As it now 
stands, this monument is the third which has been 
erected on the same spot in commemoration of the event. 

The members of the Agricultural Society of Boulogne 
acquired this historic ground at a time when it was still 
possible to trace, from what remained of the earthworks, 
the exact spot where the Emperor had stood. 

The modest owners of the property determined to 
mark the spot by raising a monument in memory of the 
event ; and having collected a certain sum among them- 
selves, erected a block of marble, engraved with the 
date 28th Thermidor, XII., and surrounded by a wreath 
of laurels, with the Cross of the Legion of Honour. 

The humble little monument was destroyed after 
the events of 1815, although the Government main- 
tained the Order and continued to award the distinction. 
This inconsistency lasted for fifteen years. 

Then came the Revolution of 1830, when it was 
suggested that the monument should be restored ; and 
the Agricultural Society, together with the National 
Guard of Boulogne, raised a new stone over the remains 
of the first, on October 24th, 1830. On one side was the 
date : " 28 Thermidor, Year XII.," and on the other : 
" Solemn Distribution of the Crosses, 16 August, 1804." 

The other memorable event that took place at 
Boulogne in 1804 was the laying of the foundation stone 
of the great column, which was erected by the Grand Army 
as a mark of admiration and devotion to the Emperor. 


On September 2ist, 1804, Marshal Soult, Com- 
mander-in-Chief of the troops, issued an Order of the 
Day, of which I give a few extracts : 

" Headquarters of Boulogne. 

" The troops of the camp at Boulogne wishing to give 
a proof of their admiration and devotion to the monarch 
who rules over the destinies of France, have resolved : 

" To erect a monument, capable of resisting the ravages 
of time, in order to perpetuate the memory of his greatness 
and glory ; and to testify to their love and fidelity to the 
First Emperor of the French, before all the world and all 

" To raise a memorial, for all time, of our hero's creation 
of an Order to reward honour and bravery. 

" And, lastly, to consecrate the spot where the Emperor 
Napoleon came to share the work and hardships of his 
soldiers, to train them for new conflicts, and to prepare 
the way for the success of his vast enterprise." 

In accordance with the wishes of the army, the 
Commander-in- Chief decided on the following pro- 
gramme : 

" A column 50 metres high shall be erected on a quad- 
rangular pedestal, with a colossal statue of H.I. Majesty on 
the summit. 

" The statue of his Majesty shall be in bronze, and shall 
represent him clothed in the Imperial robes, with crown and 

" The column shall stand between the Emperor's head- 
quarters at the Tour d'Odre, and the camp of the first 
division, in full sight of the Continent, and in face of the 
Channel and the British Islands. 

" The foundation stone shall be laid on i8th Brumaire 
next, on the anniversary of the regeneration of France under 
the government of Napoleon the Great. 

" The Marshal Commander-in-Chief, 
" SOULT." 


To retain the character of the memorial as an offer- 
ing of the army to their chief, it was decided to defray 
the expenses of its erection by deducting a day's pay 
every month from each of the officers, and half a day's 
pay from the non-commissioned officers and men of 
the Army and Navy. 

Napoleon was much touched on being informed of 
these resolutions, and bade Marshal Soult inform the 
officers and men that " the monument the army proposed 
erecting, in honour of the camp at Boulogne, would serve 
to mark the epoch for the military events that were 
to follow, the glorious results of which would compensate 
for all the dangers and hardships incurred." 

The Navy also published the following Order of the 
Day on November 8th, 1804 : 

" Order of the Day of the Imperial Fleet, concerning 
the laying of the foundation stone of Napoleon's column : 

" The Army having resolved to erect a monument to 
the glory of our monarch, and to perpetuate thereby the 
memory of the great expedition which his powerful genius 
conceived and planned, the admiral, acting on behalf of 
the officers and sailors of the Imperial fleet, has expressed 
to Marshal Soult their wish to take part in this testimonial 
of gratitude and admiration, now being offered to his Majesty. 
Marshal Soult, in his own name and in that of the army, has 
readily accepted the wishes of the fleet. 

" The foundation stone will be laid to-morrow, the anni- 
versary of the i8th Brumaire, at 9.30 a.m. ; the prefect, the 
general officers, and the staff officers of the fleet will there- 
fore meet at the admiral's quarters, to accompany him to 
the quarters of Marshal Soult, and from thence to High Mass, 
which will be celebrated in the parish church of Boulogne. 
On leaving the church, everyone will proceed to the site chosen 
for the erection of the monument. 

" A detachment of a hundred naval gunners, with their 
flag, commanded by a captain ; and 100 sailors, in full dress, 


commanded by a naval lieutenant, will proceed at ten o'clock 
to the Plateau of the First Division at the Tour d'Odre. 

" The ceremony over, the troops will march past, and 
then the admiral, accompanied by the officers above men- 
tioned, will board the praam La Ville de Mayence, and dis- 
tribute the Crosses of the Legion of Honour." 

As the town of Boulogne wished to rival the two ser- 
vices in their patriotic zeal, the municipal councillors 
were convened to a special meeting on the I7th Brumaire, 
the day before the ceremony, and the following resolution 
was unanimously adopted : 

" Taking into consideration the facts that : 

" A monument of majestic proportions, planned on a vast 
scale, built of durable material, and fit to transmit to pos- 
terity the deeds of the hero in whose honour it is to be raised, 
is the only tribute considered worthy of being offered to 
him ; 

" That, the inhabitants of Boulogne should be guided 
by the same sentiments as those which animate the troops 
on this occasion; 

" That, the Boulonnais have at last found an opportunity 
of giving material proof of their devotion to the head of the 
Empire, by uniting with the brave men who are to raise a 
trophy to his glory . . . . " 

Then the municipal council directed a committee 
to offer on behalf of the town, " the exclusive property 
of the land considered necessary to make a fitting 
enclosure round the monument." 

This proposal was accepted by Marshal Soult. 

An official report of the municipal committee, dated 
I7th Brumaire, XIII. , mentions that the site chosen 
was about 200 metres from the Calais Road, and that 
the area required was 4^- hectares (about u acres), 
for which the town paid the sum of 18,000 francs. The 
foundation stone was a block of marble, about 31 inches 


by 23, and 10 inches thick ; it had the following in- 
scription : 








Immediately after the solemn celebration of Mass, 
the detachments, representing the whole army and the 
fleet, marched to the scene of the ceremony, where they 
formed square ; the Marshal in command, escorted by a 
grenadier from each regiment, then proceeded to lay the 
first stone of the column, the foundations of which were 
dug six metres deep in the earth. 

On the 25th Pluviose, Marshal Soult demanded of 
the Emperor "the requisite bronze for the bas-reliefs 
of the monument, which the army will replace at the 
enemy's expense." 

And, sure enough, after the battle of Austerlitz, the 
Marshal forwarded 49,000 kilos of bronze, taken on the 
battlefield, to Napoleon with these words : 

" I borrowed some bronze for the Napoleonic column, 
and herewith return the capital with interest." 

Later on, Marshal Soult issued an order, dated 
December I4th, 1807, from Elbeng, by which a general 
statement was published of all monies received since 
the starting of the subscription among the soldiers of 
the camp, and the sailors of the fleet, at Boulogne. 
The sum total of the subscriptions, which had been 
collected by the pay-masters, amounted to 1,408,578 
francs 30 centimes, on October ist, 1810. 


In 1814, the column which, it was supposed at 
first, would only take four years to build had only 
reached a height of 19 metres, and large sums were 
still required for the completion of the monument. 

But instead of helping towards its completion, the 
Government, on the contrary, in 1815 confiscated the 
bronze intended for the bas-reliefs, and had it cast 
into a statue of Henri IV.* The statue of Napoleon by 
Houdan, which was already completed, was broken up, 
together with the bas-reliefs. As for the edifice in course 
of erection, it was decided to turn it into a lighthouse, 
under the supervision of the Civil Engineering Department. 

When this decision was made known, it aroused 
a good deal of feeling among the people ; numerous 
petitions were made, and an urgent protestation was 
addressed to the Due d'Angouleme, till finally the 
works were again started in 1819. 

Then the question was raised as to what should be 
placed on the summit of the column a statue of Louis 
XVIII. or of Henri IV. ? It ended, from motives of 
economy, no doubt, in the selection of a mere globe, 
with a royal crown and fleur-de-lys ornamentations, 
which was placed at the top of the monument in August, 
1824, an d it was then called the Column of the Bour- 
bons. However, in 1830, it was determined that the 
column should be completed at last, and restored to 
the purpose for which it was originally intended. 

Some wished it to be called the Napoleonic Column ; 
others, the Column of the Grand Army. The Minister, 
being anxious to humour all parties, decided in favour 
of the latter appellation. 

" In 1838," writes M. le Cat, " the Minister Monta- 
livet directed Denis to cast a new statue of Napoleon, 
which he had commissioned Bosio to model. This 

* The one on the Pont-Neuf in Paris. 


statue was erected on the banks of the Seine, opposite 
the Invalides, at the time of the Emperor's obsequies ; 
then it was sent to Boulogne, where it was inaugurated 
on August I5th, 1841." 

Just as it was about to be hoisted into position, it 


was discovered that some malevolent person had taken 
advantage of the darkness of the preceding night, to carve 
the word " Waterloo " on the left eye-ball, which they 
were only able partially to erase. 

The monument, when completed in September, 1845, 
consisted of a platform at the base 33 metres square, 
of a Doric column, and the acroterium on which stood 
the Imperial statue. 


The whole erection measures 53 m. 60 in height. 
The shaft is about 4 metres in diameter, and entirely 
built of Boulonnais marble, so-called Napoleon marble. 
The Emperor's statue, in Imperial robes, stands over 
3J metres high. The weight of the bronze alone is 
7,500 kilos. The top platform (140 metres above sea 
level), which is reached by a winding staircase of 265 
steps, gives a splendid panoramic view of the country 
and roadstead ; and on fine days the coast of England 
stands out clear and distinct upon the horizon. 

Napoleon neglected no methods which he thought 
might serve to stimulate the zeal of his soldiers ; this 
was why, for instance, he would on occasion, and without 
fear of ridicule, fasten the Cross of the Legion of Honour 
on the breast of women warriors who had distinguished 
themselves by some particular act of bravery. 

I must quote, as an example, the case of a woman 
who was made a corporal, a sergeant, and a sub-lieutenant 
in succession, and was finally awarded the Cross of the 
Legion of Honour, which the Emperor handed to her 

Marie-Jeanne Schellinck was born at Ghent in 1757, 
and was thirty-five when she enlisted in the French army, 
in April, 1792. She joined the 2nd Belgian battalion, 
composed of Belgian patriots who had rebelled against 
the dominion of Austria, and were outlawed in conse- 
quence. Marie Schellinck became a corporal on June 
i5th, 1792, and took part in the Belgian campaign, 
during which she received six sword-cuts at the battle 
of Jemmapes. Owing to her great courage, she was 
made a sergeant on December 7th, 1793, and continued 
to serve under Jourdan. In 1795 she fought in 
Holland ; then she joined the army of Italy under 
Bonaparte's orders, and was mentioned in the Order 
of the Day of the battle of Arcole. She fell into the 


hands of the enemy on March 3rd, 1797, was im- 
prisoned in Austria, and only returned to France 
on June nth, 1798. After taking part in the battle 
of Marengo, she joined the army at Boulogne in 1804. 

The following year, she went through the Austrian 
campaign, and fought at Austerlitz, where she was 
wounded in the leg by a bullet, December 2nd, 1805. 
She was rewarded for her valour by being promoted 
to the rank of sub-lieutenant, on January 9th, 1806 ; 
and subsequently the heroine was again wounded at 
the battle of Jena, on October I3th, 1806. 

Finally, Napoleon showed his appreciation of Marie 
Schellinck's valuable services, by conferring on her the 
Order of the Legion of Honour. As he handed her the 
Cross he said : " Madame, I grant you a pension of 700 
francs, and make you Chevalier of the Legion of Honour. 
Receive, at my hands, the Star of the brave, which you 
have so nobly won." Then turning to his officers, he 
added : " Gentlemen, salute this brave woman with 
respect ; she is one of the glories of the Empire." * 

What could better serve to excite the zeal of 
the soldiers, or be more conducive to proper rivalry, 
than this tribute paid to feminine courage before the 
assembled troops ? 

* Marie Schellinck returned to her country and lived to the age of eighty- 


Explanation of Nicknames " Boney " and "Fleshy" Bonaparte 
and Gulliver English Roast Beef and Plum Pudding 
French Soup French Frog Eaters Caricatures of the 
Flotilla, the Grand Army, and the Intended Invasion. 

FROM the moment that Bonaparte began to play a pre- 
ponderating part in the affairs of the Continent, the 
hostility of England betrayed itself by a multitude 
of caricatures, lampoons, and pamphlets, which were 
scattered broadcast, either by those in the pay of the 
English, or by the partisans of the Bourbons. 

In France, these satirical productions which were 
very soon intercepted did not diminish in the least 
the popularity of the man they were intended to 
damage : in England, the dealers who sold these 
prints made ! a fortune by the trade. 

However, in spite of the number of these prints that 
were issued in the course of many years, collectors can 
find but a limited number of them nowadays ; because, 
during the Empire the police, acting under orders, had 
sought out and destroyed everything that cast ridicule 
on the sovereign, knowing well that in France they may 
forget faults and even crimes, but that ridicule is a 
deadly weapon. 

A great variety of satirical drawings are preserved 
among the portfolios of the Carnavalet Museum and the 
Bibliotheque Nationale, among the curious publications 


of M. Grand Carteret (" Napoleon in Pictures "), and 
also in English and French private collections and 
they are all of a violently personal nature. In fact, 
the envenomed point of the artist's pencil vied with 
the pen, dipped in gall, which had written the legends 
to the pictures. 

Take, for instance, the titles alone of some of the 
prints : a whole vocabulary might be compiled from 
the abusive epithets scattered over the illustrations 
of " Boney " the accursed Corsican : 

The Corsican Monkey. 

The Corsican Worm. 

The Corsican Beggar. 

The Corsican Grasshopper. 

The Corsican Spider. 

The Corsican Juggler. 

The Corsican Bloodhound. 

The Corsican Toad. 

The Corsican Fox. 

The Corsican Tiger. 

The Bonaparte Bear. 

Crocodile Bonaparte. 

The Invasion of Harlequin. 

The Naughty Boy. 

The Little Man Afraid of his own Shadow. 

The Beast of the Apocalypse. 

Boney quite Mad. 

Tom Thumb at Bay. 

Harlequin's Last Jump. 

The Murderer of Madame Republique. 

The Political Butcher. 

Napoleon the Small. 

The Double Charlatan. 

The Butcher of Corpses. 

The Devil's Favourite. ^ 

Bonaparte, Brigand Chief. 


For many years the English caricaturists, Gillray, 
Rowlandson, Cruikshank, and a host of anonymous 
draughtsmen, used their pencils not without profit- 
in a satirical campaign against the Bonaparte they all 
detested, and who was popularly known in England 
under the name of " Little Boney." 

But whence this name of Boney ? 

In the first place it is the abbreviation of Bonaparte, 
and we may also ask ourselves whether the success of 
this appellation was not due, in a great measure, to a 
peculiarity which appears to me very suggestive. 

For, on looking over the collections of the caricatures 
drawn at this period, the first thing that strikes one is 
the extreme thinness of the General and First Consul, 
who is represented by the artists as an emaciated per- 
sonage with sunken eyes, protruding cheek bones, and 
skeleton arms and legs. In contrast to this puny, 
sickly creature, they complacently depict the corpulent 
subjects of King George carving a huge sirloin of beef, 
or stuffing down large mouthfuls of an appetising 

In fact, these national dishes play a most prominent 
part in many of the caricatures : some even explain that 
the real reason why Bonaparte wished to invade England, 
was, so that he might have the chance of eating a good 
underdone roast, instead of being restricted to a scanty 
fare of frogs. 

On the other hand, the caricatures drawn of Napoleon 
towards the end of his life, gave him the aspect of a 
heavy man with a large protuberance (which was correct 
as far as that goes), and in these he is called no longer 
Boney, but Fleshy. For instance, one print in particular 
is entitled " Fleshy, formerly Boney." 

This distinction between the two nicknames would 
seem to make the full meaning of the first quite clear. 


Still, the epithet of " Boney " was popularly used till 
the fall of the Empire, and we come across it in a whole 
series of prints dating from 1812, 1814, and even from 
1815 in this one, for instance, " Boney in the Waterloo 
Cauldron." (June, 1815.) Then, again, the English 
humourists indulged in more or less happy attempts at 
puns, poking fun now at " Apollo " (Napoleon), now at 
" Talley " (Talleyrand), or " Bone-a-part " (sic) ; and, 
as we shall see later on, an author even went to the 
length of giving a double meaning to a shout for mercy, 
" Misericorde ! " which he puts into Bonaparte's mouth, 
" misery " and " cord " ! 

But it was especially at the time of the Boulogne 
Camp that the caricatures swarmed, their object being 
to stir up public feeling against this alarming personage, 
the Corsican pest and dreaded scourge. 

For he was now no longer merely the victorious 
general of Italy and Egypt, but the bold invader threaten- 
ing England, a few leagues distant only from the coast, 
and ready to face all perils with his host of brave men, 
who were intoxicated with continual success, and could 
not believe in the possibility of any check. 

In some of the prints published both in England 
and Germany, Bonaparte is caricatured in various 
situations taken from " Gulliver's Travels," which 
offered endless appropriate allusions, affording comparison 
with the events of the time. What indeed can be more 
picturesque and full of meaning and imagination, than 
the travels in which Gulliver finds himself, first a giant 
in the kingdom of the Lilliputians, and then a pigmy 
among giants ? 

The print which represents Napoleon drawing a 
fleet of nutshells in his wake, with pieces of string (see 
illustration), recalls Swift's hero towing King Blefuscu's 
fleet into the port of Lilliput, holding in his hands 


the packthread cables with which the ships were 

In order to understand the allusion which the carica- 
turist intended thereby to convey, fifty years after the 
death of Swift, we must remember that " Gulliver's 
Travels " was, above all, a satirical pamphlet on the 


politics of his time : the dissensions between the Whigs 
and Tories, for instance, are represented by the faction 
of the Low-heels and High-heels ; Walpole is easily dis- 
cernible in the character of the Lilliputian Minister ; 
and the quarrels of Papists and Protestants are depicted 
in the struggles between the Big-endians, who maintained 
that eggs should be broken on the larger end, and the 
Small-endians, who contended that they should be opened 
at the smaller end. Another illustration : 

When Gulliver, the adventurer, went on his second 
voyage he landed on the shores of Brobdingnag, peopled 


by a race of giants, who were governed by a wise and 
patriotic prince. A print, taken from this incident, 
casts ridicule on the invasion of England, by representing 
it as a game causing much amusement to King George 
and all his family. Bonaparte, in this instance, is 
compared to Gulliver, on his trip to the giants' land, 
and is seen manoeuvring his little boat in the cistern. 
The author discovered an excellent proof of this inter- 


esting drawing in the museum at Boulogne, and was 
able to have it reproduced for the present work. 

Many were the satirical illustrations inspired by 
Swift's great work this one, for instance, " An Obstacle 
in the way of the Corsican, or Gulliver and his Guide," 
in which Gulliver (Napoleon) climbs up a ladder to 
reach the crown of the King of Brobdingnag (King 
George) and is held in leash by a sailor armed with a 
switch (1803). 

Or again : " The little Princess and Gulliver," in 
which the Brobdingnagian princess (Charlotte of Wales) 


pitches Gulliver into the sea for having the audacity 
to try and snatch the royal crown from her grandfather. 
In the " Watchman of Brobdingnag opposing the 
Landing of Gulliver," King George himself turns the 
light of the " Constitutional Lantern " on Bonaparte 


and the invaders, whiqh suffices to put them 'all to flight 


In another drawing by Gillray, King George is holding 
in his right hand a puppet representing Bonaparte, and 
staring at him through a spy-glass to make out who in 
the world this puny adversary can be ! In fact, the 
humourists found material everywhere for their satirical 
comparisons. One caricature represents the First Consul 


carousing with his courtiers and feasting on the riches 
of Albion. But just as he is about to devour some cakes, 
drawn so as to represent the principal London monu- 
ments, he is struck motionless with fear on seeing the 
fateful words of Belshazzar's feast on the walls. 

Gillray was not content to express -humour and caustic 
wit in his drawings, for in one of them Napoleon's head 
is shown on a pike, and the legend beneath it runs : 
"Forty-eight Hours after Landing." Several of the 
details in the drawing remind one of the bloodthirsty 
picture representing the severed heads that were carried 
through the streets of Paris, on the day of the taking of 
the Bastille. Beneath the picture is a notice to this 
effect : " Warning to adventurers ! Insurance policies 
can now be taken out at Lloyd's by which, on payment 
of a guinea premium, anyone will be entitled to the sum 
of a hundred guineas, should the Corsican butcher still 
be alive forty-eight hours after landing." 

Then the following words are written across the 
picture on the right : " Ha ! my little Boney ! What 
do you think of John Bull now ? Pillage old England, 
eh ? Make us all slaves, would you ? God bless your 
cracked skull for thinking that John Bull would ever 
allow your great jaws to devour his roast beef and plum 
pudding ! " 

This method of exciting the people, by calling their 
attention to the danger their national dishes would 
incur in the event of an invasion, was systematically 
employed in a number of satirical pamphlets and carica- 
tures of the period ; but these coarse pictures were only 
intended for the populace. 

Then, again, there is a drawing of a fat soldier, carry- 
ing Bonaparte's head on the end of a pike, with these 
three words summing up Gillray 's feelings : " Britons, 
strike home ! " 


In England, and even in France, one sometimes has 
the good luck to come across, in a print-seller's shop, 
an amusing drawing of Gillray's, called " The Plum 
Pudding in Danger, or State Epicures having a Little 
Supper." Pitt and Bonaparte are here depicted in the 
act of dividing the world between them. The statesmen 
are seated opposite each other, and the pudding they are 
attacking is the terrestrial globe, too small to satisfy 
their insatiable appetites. 

But why should Pitt be attacked as well as Napoleon ? 
Because, it has been said, the enemies of the Prime 
Minister accused him of favouring Bonaparte and of 
having secret dealings with him. 

But this interpretation is incorrect, for on examining 
any good proof of the engraving, the real meaning of 
the caricature is obvious : Bonaparte, wearing an absurd 
feathered cocked hat, and looking somewhat disgusted, 
is cutting a moderate slice, " Europe," out of the globe 
with his sword ; while Pitt, with a jeering smile on his 
countenance, helps himself to a good half, on which is 
written the word " Ocean," as befits a nation that claims 
the sovereignty of the seas. 

Another allegory represents Napoleon dragging on 
the nations in the wake of death ; before him, a skeleton, 
playing on the violin, leads a sort of dance of death. 
As for Napoleon himself, he is seen brandishing a sword 
and pursuing his warlike course, trampling upon public 
liberty, treaties of peace, the codes, the independence 
of nations, and the rights of the people. 

I will also mention one or two prints that are anything 
but funereal : Bonaparte is seen crossing the sea at the 
head of his grenadiers, each of whom is holding a musket 
in one hand and an umbrella in the other, so as not to 
get wet. 

In another, Bonaparte and his generals and soldiers 


are formed in line, passing buckets of salt water from 
hand to hand, to be emptied in the Liane, so that the 
Grand Army should get across the Channel dry-footed, 
as did the Hebrews in the Red Sea. 

" Pike or Gudgeon " so says a well-known English 
proverb : in other words, you must devour others or they 
will devour you, according to a philosophy which has 
little enough to do, it is true, with morality. And so the 
artist outlines the coast of England with a series of pikes' 
heads with gaping jaws, and the imprudent gudgeons 
venturing near are swallowed up and serve to stock 
a French " fried-fish " shop, which is evidently driving 
a roaring trade on the top of the cliff. 

Another print shows the French soldiers mounted on 
porpoises and advancing in good order to conquer England, 
which is seen on the horizon. 

This quaint notion of porpoises being used as steeds 
recalls an incident which really happened. 

" Adjutant Quatremere-Disjonval, who at times 
appeared insane enough to be locked up," writes the 
Duchesse d'Abrantes, " once asked General Davoust for 
an interview at Ostend, in order to impart to him some 
wonderful plan he had conceived for transporting the 
army across the Channel." 

There appears to have been a dual personality in 
this strange being, whom we find, at one time, so dis- 
tinguishing himself in physics and chemistry as to be 
made a member of the Academy of Sciences ; at another, 
giving practical advice on the construction of gun-boats 
for the expedition to Egypt ; now publishing works on 
the use of spiders' webs for measuring the moisture in 
the atmosphere ; then posing as a linguist and giving 
opinions which caused him to be looked upon as a lunatic. 
For instance, he maintained that the sounds in the human 
language were originally based on the noise made by 


the instruments with which men drew water for their 
needs ; and finally concluded that the signs of arithmetic, 
music and the alphabet were all taken from the same 
instruments. At one time he intended publishing an 
important treatise on the subject. 

" One day, after General Davoust had been reviewing 
Friant's Division," writes the Duchesse d'Abrantes, 
" Quatremere approached just as he was dismounting, 
and presented him with a beautiful manuscript tied 
with pink and blue ribbons. ' General,' he said, ' I beg 
to offer a novel suggestion for transporting our soldiers 
across the Channel : it is a safe and economical method- 
somewhat unusual, perhaps but still, heroic methods 
are suited to a man like yourself.' ' 

As no one present happened to know Adjutant Quatre- 
mere, the General took the memoir and began to read it. 
This is how it commenced : " Who would have foreseen, 
in times of old, and before these things came to pass, 
that the ox would plough for man, that the dog would 
hunt for him, that the horse would carry him, that the 
elephant would obey him, that the falcon would be 
subject to him in fact, that the animals would alter 
their habits to become slaves to man ? Yet so it is. 
Water, so far, has proved of least use to man ; but 
why ? The time has now come for us to conquer this 
element and bring its inhabitants into subjection for the 
benefit of the French army." 

"Up to this point," adds Mme. d'Abrantes, "the 
General might still suppose that there was something 
worth reading in the memoir. But there was the sequel 
to read ! " 

Quoting Pliny as an authority, and basing his ex- 
travagant theories on all that has been said concerning 
the intelligence of animals, Quatremere concluded that 
the fish, after all, is no less intelligent than a camel, 


horse, or elephant. And if this is admitted, why should 
not fish be trained like other animals ? Then, still citing 
Pliny, and recalling the antique medals of Athens that 
represent a view of the Piraeus and a dolphin carrying 
a man on his back , the poor author announced his 
proposition : Why not train a certain number of dolphins 
(in other words, porpoises) to carry several companies 
of sharpshooters across the Channel ? 

Nothing could be easier, he proceeded to explain ; 
the sailors could be made to fish for porpoises, and when 
caught, they might be let loose in the dock and kept 
well fed till they were tame and there was a marine 
cavalry all ready for crossing over to England ! 

Quatremere went on to explain how to make the 
bridles, bits, and indeed the whole equipment of the 
dolphins, for he still clung to this poetical term. 

Such was the purport of the poor crazy memoir. 

General Davoust read the work through while eating 
his lunch. 

" Florainville ! " he suddenly exclaimed, addressing 
the chief of the gendarmes at his headquarters, " arrest 
this madman Quatremere at once, and let two gendarmes 
take him on foot from brigade to brigade, straight to 
Paris." And the order was punctually carried out, in 
spite of the protestations of the " inventor." 

Another idea of Quatremere's was that the soldiers 
should effect a mysterious entry into the enemy's harbours 
by means of diving-bells. Perhaps Quatremere had a 
vague glimmering notion of the future submarines among 
the confused images in his brain. At all events, as 
the motive power was still undiscovered at that time, 
this grand scheme of his was not more practicable than 
the rest of his inventions. 

After Nelson's victory, France was chiefly concerned 
in building a new fleet as rapidly as possible, and for 


this purpose she placed many orders for warships in 
the Dutch yards. This gave rise in England to the pro- 
pagation of a certain poster representing grotesque 
figures hurrying to and fro with whole batches of little 
boats and cannons, which were being brought to a fat 
Dutchman to bake in his oven. In the background 
John Bull, sturdy, stout and well fed, is shaking with 
laughter and holding his sides, and beneath him are 


the words : " High Fun for John Bull ; or, the Republicans 
put to their Last Shift." 

A hideous and ragged-looking creature is emerging 
from a huge kneading-trough, exclaiming : " You must 
hurry up ! Nelson is taking our ships by the dozen." 
On the trough itself is a whole series of words in 
rhyme : ruination, botheration, confiscation, requisition, 
plunderation (sic), limitation, execution, constitution, 
fraternisation, naturalisation, expedition, abolition. 

There is a very interesting drawing in the Boulogne 


Museum which summarises all the different plans wise 
or fantastic that were conceived in the brains of French- 
men during the First Empire in view of attacking 
England. In this drawing (1803) are first of all air 
balloons, preceded by kites, acting as scouts : this is the 
fleet of airships. 

Below these an innumerable fleet covers the Channel ; 
the boats are packed so closely together that the sea is 
scarcely visible ; on the right is the Boulogne belfry, 
with Chappe's telegraphic apparatus on the summit ; 
to the left a powerful squadron protects the English 
coast and pours broadsides on the audacious nutshells : 
this is the sea-route across to England. 

Below these, again, is the submarine route, which is 
really interesting, for a tunnel is represented joining 
England to France beneath the Straits. The French 
chariots, guns and troops, can be seen between the frame- 
work of the tunnel making a secret advance to surprise 
the enemy by a triple attack. 

The idea of making a Channel tunnel had therefore 
already been thought of as early as the beginning of 
the last century. 

In a print entitled "Boney's Journey to London" 
(Boulogne Museum), it is asked why Bonaparte is so 
long in coming. And the legend explains at the foot 
of the plate that it is because he travels with his house 
like a snail. The joke consists in representing him jour- 
neying in a hut raised on four wheels, and sitting on 
the box driving the grenadiers, who are harnessed to the 
machine instead of horses. 

A coloured print, dated 1803, represents " honest 
Pat " giving Bonaparte a warm reception with blows from 
his spade, just as he is emerging from the sea at the head 
of his grenadiers. Beneath are the words : " The arrival 
of the scarecrows, or giving them an Irish welcome." 


A little picture in the Boulogne Museum shows John 
Bull in the act of dragging the First Consul towards the 
gallows with a rope, in spite of his struggles ; at the same 
time the flotilla is being blown up in the background 
and is sinking beneath the waves. The legend runs thus : 
"Johnny Bull giving Boneya Pull," and in a little scroll near 
Bonaparte are the words : " Oh, misericorde ! John Bull ! " 

The Coronation ceremony of 1804 seemed to aggravate 
British hostility against the person of the Emperor. 

Gillray's caricature of the coronation had an immense 
success, and his illustration of the procession is really 
worth recording : Talleyrand is seen limping at the head 
of the cortege bearing the Emperor's genealogy, and 
staggering beneath the weight of the parchments. Pope 
Pius the Seventh follows, and is accompanied by Cardinal 
Feschi, waving incense before the Emperor and Empress ; 
the Sovereign is in the garb of a jester, and, as for Josephine, 
she is made to look as dowdy and ungainly as can well 
be imagined. Puffs of smoke issuing from the censer 
are supposed to represent the following tributes offered 
to his Majesty : Address from the Paris municipality ; 
congratulations from Paris idlers ; obeisance of cowards ; 
admiration of lunatics ; homage of the rabble ; con- 
gratulations from French frogs. Behind the Imperial 
couple are the ladies-of-honour, with this explanation 
written beneath the group : " Former fish-fags." The 
Imperial train is borne by obsequious kings, poten- 
tates and princes, and a whole army of generals 
closes the procession. On the canopy held above the 
Imperial couple is the following amiable legend : 

" Redeunt Satania regna; 
Jam nova progenies coelo dimittitur alto ! " 

where the word Satania, differing from the Latin text, 
and which everyone can understand, is emphasized. 


The epithet of " frog-eaters " was then and is still, 
in a way the usual nickname in England for Frenchmen. 
A coloured print, dated 1804, represents French 
soldiers bringing sacks full of frogs to the gunners sta- 
tioned along the shore. On the right of the picture an 
Englishman is roasting an enormous sirloin, and at the 
top of the illustration are these words : " The Great 
Consul, in consideration of yourjpatience, has sent some 



live frogs and rich garlic from Saint-Cloud to cheer you, 
for he fears it may be a long time before you get 
the chance of eating roast beef on the other side of 
the water." 

There are constant allusions to frogs, as forming the 
principal diet of the French, in the pictorial satires of 
the times. For instance, in " The Frog and the Ox, or the 
Emperor of Gaul in 1804," King George is represented 
with an ox behind him, while Napoleon is accompanied 
by a frog trying to swell itself out to the size of the ox. 
John Bull is saying, jokingly : "He looks as though he 


were going to burst, but he will never become as big as 
our bullocks ! " 

The French are also frequently represented making 
a scanty meal off nothing but soup, as in the illustration, 
" Roast Beef and French Soup," dating from the time 
of the First Empire. 

The illustration on opposite page summarises all 
that has been said on the subject of Boney, the 
" emaciated frog-eater." 

The Emperor continued to be a favourite subject 
for caricaturists even during the period of his adversity. 
He was then represented as a " cynical Devil," as a 
" stout and stupid gardener," or, again, with drawn and 
grief-stricken features, wearing the traditional " little 
hat," very much out of shape and transformed into the 
cap of an idiotic buffoon. 

Hatred of the man did not diminish even when he 
was vanquished and an exile, and remained implacable 
to the " captured eagle dying on the fatal rock " up to 
the last hour of his life. 



Admiral Bruix and the Chief of the Interpreters Cuvelier de 
Tri's Vocabulary revised by an English Spy. 

A LITTLE matter of history, which, in view of the circum- 
stances, is certainly not without interest, may here be 
mentioned : Did the great organiser of the flotilla, who 
hoped to reach the very heart of the British dominions, 
know anything of the English language ? 

The records of the first years of Bonaparte's life 
have been searched and analysed so carefully, in their 
minutest particulars, that it is possible to state exactly 
the studies for which he showed most aptitude, and those, 
on the contrary, in which he did not distinguish himself. 

For instance, we know that at Brienne, which he 
entered on May i5th, 1779, under the tuition of the 
" Minimes " monks, the little Corsican was very proficient 
in history and mathematics. But, though his science 
master, Father Patrault, had reason to be very proud of 
him, it does not appear that his German master, F. Kehl, 
found him a very remarkable pupil. 

In any case, he did not learn English in this estab- 
lishment. When young " Paille-au-nez " * (a nickname 
given him by his schoolfellows at Brienne) entered the 
military college in Paris, there were three German pro- 
fessors and one English, on the staff of teachers. 
There, just as had happened at Brienne, he was the pride 

* Because of the Corsican pronunciation of his Christian name, Napole-o-ne. 



of his mathematical master, L. Monge, and his ready 
understanding of history was a source of wonder to his 
teacher, Deleguille ; but there, again, he drove his German 
professor to distraction by the incapacity he displayed 
in the study of this language, and honest M. Bauer had 
no hesitation in calling him an " arrant fool." 

As for the English language it is never even mentioned. 
This much, then, we know of the " fiery little Corsican's " 
studies during his youth, as far as foreign languages are 

Then, if we look back upon the last years of Napoleon's 
life, we find that although he studied the English language 
towards the end, he never learnt to speak it fluently. 
" I had made up my mind to teach English to my son," 
writes Count Las Cases at Saint-Helena," and the Emperor, 
to whom I happened to mention the progress he was 
making, insisted on learning it also. I did my best to 
work out, for his benefit, a simple method of learning 
the language. All went well for several days, but the 
tediousness of the study very soon became as intolerable 
as the tedium it was meant to drive away, and English 
was left alone. The Emperor, it is true, took me to task 
on several occasions for not persevering with the lessons, 
and I then observed that I had his dose ready for him, 
if he would only make up his mind to swallow it." 

Various documents show that even in August, 1815, 
Napoleon was not able to make himself understood in 
English. When he went on board the Northumberland, 
he walked up to the officers, and saluted them very politely; 
addressing Sir George Cockburn, he asked that the 
captain might be introduced to him, and his wish was 
at once complied with. Finding, however, that the latter 
could not speak French, he addressed several officers 
in succession, till he discovered a captain of artillery 
who knew the language. Then Lord Lowther and the 


Honourable M. Lyttleton were introduced to him. But 
before seeing these gentlemen, he had already expressed 
a desire, by means of gestures, to be shown the modest 
cabin he was to occupy. For though he had still been 
treated as an Emperor while on board the Seller ophon, 
when on board the Northumberland he was merely looked 
upon as a general ; and besides his little private cabin, 
he had no accommodation save the saloon, which he 
shared with the admiral and the members of his suite. 

Doctor Warden* mentions in his letters that Napoleon 
addressed him in English on one occasion by saying, 
" How do you do ? " 

No doubt the Emperor was as capable as everybody 
else of asking this simple question, but the very fact 
of its being noted by Doctor Warden would prove that 
the foregoing remarks are justified. 

It has been said that he had at least acquired sufficient 
knowledge to be able to read, or make out the meaning 
of, the English newspapers and publications. That may 
be so, but at what period ? We know from " Boney's " f 
numerous English and French chroniclers, that the illus- 
trious exile spent the morning of August i6th, for in- 
stance, studying English with Las Cases but that was 
in 1816! 

If Napoleon began to study the language at this 
period, it was partly for want of occupation, and also 
from a desire to ascertain the state of popular feeling in 
England, with regard to himself. One newspaper would 

* Surgeon on board the Northumberland. 

t The nickname of " Boney " was made use of by the people, so that they 
might talk of the exile without contravening the regulations enforced on the in- 
habitants of Saint-Helena : " No one must mention the name of Bonaparte, 
or make him the subject of conversation ; nor must any notice whatever be 
taken of the restrictions his Excellency has thought fit, or may think fit, to 
make, since the Congress has placed Bonaparte outside the pale of the law. 
No one must speak to the members of Bonaparte's suite, as they have volun- 
tarily submitted themselves to the conditions imposed on Bonaparte himself." 


call him a liar, another a monster, and a third even called 
him a coward. 

A coward ! The man who led his soldiers at Essling, 
and over the bridge at Arcole ! One can well imagine 
the hero being interested in reading these estimates 
of himself in the original. Lord Rosebery, in his 
work on Napoleon, observes that the Emperor was 
extremely sensitive to the criticism of the English 
press. He insisted on having the insulting passages 
translated to him, and when this was done he was 

The same author mentions that at Saint-Helena Las 
Cases gave the Emperor lessons in English for three 
months, from January to April, 1816, after which they 
ceased entirely. Already during the voyage, according 
to Lord Rosebery, an attempt was made to start the 
lessons, but it failed. Las Cases, who had himself some- 
what forgotten the language since his return to France, 
stated that his pupil succeeded, up to a certain point, 
in understanding English when it was read out to him, 
but that his pronunciation was so extraordinary that it 
became a new language. 

It seems certain, therefore, that though Napoleon 
was able, at the end of his life, to understand English 
more or less when it was read out, he was never able to 
speak it fluently ; and it is no less certain that at the 
time of the Boulogne Camp and the organisation of the 
flotilla, Bonaparte was totally ignorant of the language 
of Shakespeare and Nelson. As for the commander 
of the expedition, Admiral Bruix, there is nothing in 
the Memoirs written by his secretary to lead us to 
suppose that he knew any other language besides his 

But this is not to be wondered at, for if we look back 
a certain number of years, withoutfgoing so far as the 


First Empire, we find that the English and German 
languages were then rarely cultivated, and that it is 
only within a comparatively recent period that they 
have been. so much acquired in France. 

In fact, Frenchmen are not inclined by nature to 
learn modern languages, and it is only because students 
are compelled by the curriculum of schools and colleges 
to study the foreign grammars, that they submit, more 
or less willingly, to the task. 

So it came about that the two supreme chiefs of the 
Grand Army were in the unfortunate position of being 
unable to ascertain for themselves a number of facts, 
and a great deal of military information, simply because 
of their ignorance of languages. 

The seriousness of this drawback has not, perhaps, 
been sufficiently considered, in summing up the reasons 
whkh induced Napoleon, in 1805, to abandon the scheme 
of invading England. 

For what happens when an army invades a country ? 
The troops raise their supplies in the enemy's land, 
obtain intelligence wherever they can, and conform 
their tactics to the information they are able to acquire, 
perhaps by taking advantage of the bewilderment of 
the women and the chatter of children. 

If spies are caught, for instance, and despatches 
opened, or orders intercepted on the way by the 
officers, the whole campaign may turn on the gain- 
ing of some piece of intelligence on which the fate 
of an army corps may depend at least on the Con- 

But in the event of the invasion of England, such as it 
had been conceived in the plan that is to say, with a 
" multiplicity of attacks and the dividing into sections, 
instead of great units of attack " it is difficult to imagine 
exactly how the innumerable elements of the flotilla 


would have operated, had they effected a landing on 
English soil. 

The nature of the armaments adopted as well as the 
results of former engagements in the Straits showed 
that in case of the hostile squadrons engaging, dependance 
had to be placed, in those days, upon boarding, in order 
to secure a victory ; but nowadays, of course, the con- 
ditions are totally different ; a few gigantic battleships 
represent, in many cases, the total naval strength of a 
nation, and the combatants on board these floating 
citadels engage in action at a distance of several miles 
from each other. 

In order to fully understand the situation, it is necessary 
to realise the special position in which the belligerents 
would have been placed, if a real engagement had taken 
place in the Straits. 

The old inhabitants of the Boulonnais used to tell 
the following story concerning the privateer Bucaille : 
On one occasion, it appears, his ship was boarded by an 
English crew, superior in numbers to his own. Bucaille, 
seeing no other means of escape, raised a shout of " Blow 
everything up ! " As soon as the English heard the 
order to set the powder ablaze, they lost no time in 
getting over the ship's sides, and making for their brig; 
but owing to Bucaille's presence of mind, some of the 
enemy remained in the hands of the corsair, who had 
known how to make his words understood. 

As the boats of the 'flotilla were numbered by the 
hundred, the difficulty wa's to find a sufficient number of 
interpreters for such a swarm of boats, especially as they 
might be required to operate in separate sections. 

The ignorance of the English language on the part 
of the officers was a source of great anxiety to Admiral 
Bruix. It was therefore decided to organise a body of in- 
terpreters, whose duties were to consist in reading over 


and translating the English papers and official and 
private correspondence, and to teach the naval and 
military officers the rudiments, at all events, of the 

The following order was published, in consequence, 
on October 5th, 1803 : 

" A company of guide-interpreters, to consist of 
117 men, shall be raised by voluntary enlistment for 
the Army of England. Candidates must be at least 
thirty-five years old, must be able to speak and translate 
English, and have lived in England. The uniform 
shall be as follows : green tunic (dragoon shade of 
green), red facings, white doeskin breeches, American 

The man who was entrusted with the special mission 
of organising this corps, was named Cuvelier de Tri. 
We find his name inscribed in 1789 as an advocate in 
the seneschal's court at Boulogne. 

He was sent to Paris for the " Federation " of July 
I4th, 1790, and for thirty years (1794 to 1824, the year 
of his death) he distinguished himself by writing plays 
for the Paris theatres. He also wrote two volumes of 
short novels, published in 1808, and among these is a 
story in verse called " The Alley of Sighs, or the Ramparts 
of Boulogne," with notes like the following: "It is 
here (Boulogne) that I am awaiting the signal to make 
a dash with our brave soldiers for the shores of our 
eternal enemy." * 

In connection with this, a former magistrate of Bou- 
logne wrote, fifty years ago, the following words, which 

* In 1804 a corps of guide -interpreters was formed of men to whom the 
English language was familiar, in view of the projected invasion of England. 
Cuvelier de Tri was given the command of the corps, and came to the camp 
at Boulogne. He had journeyed several times to perfidious Albion. (Lit- 
Review. Boulogne, June, 1865.) 

Captain in Command of the Guide-Interpreters. 


confirm our own documents : " When Cuvelier de Tri 
wrote the note in which he gives utterance to his martial 
sentiments, he was commanding the guide-interpreters 
at Boulogne, to which he was appointed by Admiral 
Bruix, according to one of his own letters dated January, 

The family of de Tri, or de Trie, was one of the very 
oldest in the Boulonnais, and owned important estates 
in the district. It was on the site of the Chateau de Tri 
that the peace was signed (March 24th, 1550) with Henry 
VIII. , by which Boulogne was given back to France.* 
The present owners of the property on which the chateau 
once stood,f discovered in the ground some remains of 
old walls, showing that the place had once been fortified. 
In fact it was supposed that these remains were con- 
nected with the subterranean passage which is said to 
have placed the chateau in direct communication with 
the ramparts of the Upper Town, by passing under the 
bed of the Liane river. 

Cuvelier de Tri set himself at once to compile a concise 
dictionary of all the words, expressions, and technical 
terms which it was important that the officers as well 
as the soldiers, for that matter should learn before 
anything else ; and later on, if war left them any leisure, 
they might then study the language more fully, were they 
so minded. 

He was much too sensible to imagine that Frenchmen, 
who find it so difficult, as a rule, to master foreign tongues, 
would be able to familiarise themselves with the English 
language in a few months ; and besides, circumstances 
might arise at any moment to precipitate impending 

Cuvelier, therefore, drew up a short lexicon for 

* Peace of Outre Eau, signed under Henry II., King of France, 
t In the Rue Constantine at Boulogne. 


the use of the officers who cared to avail themselves 
of it. 

But in spite of his great knowledge of English, he 
had grave doubts as to the success of his efforts, on 
realising the special difficulties of the task with which 
he had been entrusted. For though Frenchmen are 
helped, up to a certain point, by finding words with a 
Latin derivation in the English language, their ingenuity 
and aptitude for logical deduction avail them nothing 
when they are confronted with expressions of Saxon or 
Celtic origin. 

Cuvelier's chief difficulty was to find equivalents 
for the special terms used in the navy, and, as we know, 
a simple word requires sometimes a whole complicated 
sentence before it can be adequately rendered in another 
language. Take, for instance, the idioms and conventional 
expressions used in naval parlance : " In the doldrums, " 
"hands aloft!" "to capsize," etc.,* together with a 
hundred other nautical phrases equally expressive and 

Cuvelier was much honoured, no doubt, by the 
mission with which Admiral Bruix had entrusted him, 
but he was rather nervous as to the reception his work 
might meet with from Bonaparte ; he therefore began 
by preparing a small English-French memorandum, in 
which he intentionally gave prominence to a list of 
words which, from their fortunate resemblance to 
their equivalents in French, were not calculated to alarm 
and discourage the first attempts of beginners. 

The chief of interpreters was accordingly introduced 
by Bruix to the First Consul. On being requested to 
communicate the work he had prepared, Cuvelier com- 
placently read out a series of words, belonging undoubtedly 
to the category of those which it was necessary to learn, 

* Faire chapelle- en haut le monde ! faire gribou. 


but betraying a selection that was manifestly anything 
but casual : 

Flotille, Flotilla ; 

Semaphore, Semaphore ; 

Grenade, Grenade ; 

Lestage, Lestage ; 

Horizon, Horizon. 

And Cuvelier's peculiar emphasis of the words, as he 
read them out, clearly expressed : " You see, it is really 
not so very difficult, after all ! " 

But Bonaparte, seeing through his little manoeuvres, 
interrupted him suddenly and remarked drily : " Monsieur, 
if the dictionaries are so very much alike, I really don't 
see that there is any necessity for an interpreter." 
Whereupon Cuvelier cut his enumeration short, and passed 
on to another paragraph, which was not too discouraging 
either : 

" ' Convoi ' is pronounced convoy, * proue ' prow, 
' cabestan ' capstan, ' cabine ' cabin, ' harpon ' harpoon. 
You see," he added, " that a number of the words which 
it is necessary to learn suggest their own meaning, and 
with a very little attention The humour of the 

situation was increased when Bonaparte (was it mere 
coincidence ?) inquired abruptly : 

" And ' batterie ' is called ? " 

" Simply battery ! " exclaimed Cuvelier, delighted 
at being able to add another word to the list he had so 
ingeniously selected. 

" And the machine for raising heavy weights, a 
' chevre,' what is that called in English ? " 

" Crab," replied the interpreter, slightly disconcerted, 
and lowering his voice a little. 

"So a ' chevre ' is called crab." And after a long 
silence, such as the fiery chief used sometimes to enforce 


upon himself, when he felt it necessary to regain his 
equanimity, he added calmly : " Monsieur the Chief 
of Interpreters, I advise you to revise your work, and, 
if necessary, get someone to help you." 

" I don't quite see who could unless it 

were an English sailor, perhaps." 

" And why not ? " replied Bonaparte, who had 
already found an idea. 

A few days later, Cuvelier de Tri brought the dic- 
tionary, considerably altered, to Admiral Bruix's quarters. 
The following are a few specimens of the vocabulary, 
which was arranged so that words and ideas of similar 
meaning were classed together in various categories. 
First came the principal parts of a vessel, and the objects 
appertaining to them : 

Amarre mooring rame oar 

poulie block quille keel 

voile sail croc hook 

bouee buoy poupe stern 

carene bottom gouvernail rudder. 

Then came a list of the verbs most frequently used 
in the navy : 

tester to ballast hater to haul. 

godiller to scull talonner to strand 

nager to row hisser to hoist 

capeler to fix jumeler to fesh 

larguer to let go ftotter to swim 

carguer to brail up limander to parcel. 

A page was of course given up to military terms, 
applying especially to the situation of the moment : 

obus shell mitraille grape 

brfilot fire-ship etoupille tube 

grappin grappling hache axe 

abordage boarding bataille battle. 


Just at the moment that Cuvelier was submitting 
his dictionary for approval, the naval authorities arrested 
a man who had formerly been a British seaman, and 
had managed to obtain employment as a ship's carpenter 
in the yards at Brecquerecque, after having occupied a 
certain position in the British Navy. 

Before very long, however, he was informed against 
by his fellow- workmen, whose suspicions were aroused, 
and was placed under arrest for the time being in the 
Upper Town. 

Bonaparte, having been informed of the incident, 
ordered the supposed spy to be brought before him, 
saying that he wished to examine him personally. 

On arriving at the Tour d'Odre, the sailor, guarded 
by a strong escort, was taken to the room adjoining the 
First Consul's. Then Napoleon, raising his voice, and 
addressing his officers, declared his firm resolve to exercise 
the utmost rigours of the law on all spies that proved to 
be French, as there was no excuse to be made for such 
odious traitors ; with regard to strangers it was different, 
and he would consider the question. Matters had been 
so arranged that the prisoner heard every word that 
Napoleon uttered, and, as everyone can understand, he 
lost no time in declaring his British origin, while loudly 
protesting against the charge of treachery. 

But Bonaparte affected to believe that he was French, 
and loaded him with reproaches, insisting on the point 
that a man who betrays his own country is not sufficiently 
punished by mere death, and deserves to be tortured 
as well. Then, interrupting himself, as though struck 
by a sudden idea : " You say you are English, do you ? 
That you were once a sailor ? We shall soon see ! " 
And picking up accidentally, as it were, the sheets on 
which were the interpreter's technical terms, he handed 
them to his officers. " Gentlemen," he said, " dictate 


these French words to that man, and he will give their 
English equivalents. In an hour you will bring me the 
translation ; we shall soon see whether he is lying or 
not " and then he went out. 

On the following day, Cuvelier having presented 
himself at the pavilion, the First Consul said to him : 
' Your work is good at least, that is the opinion of 
one who is quite competent to judge." 

The chief of interpreters was naturally rather curious 
to know who the individual was who considered himself 
qualified to correct his work, and ventured timidly to 
inquire the name of the Boulonnais who had been 
selected for the delicate task of revision. " It was an 
Englishman who undertook to do it," replied Bonaparte, 
laughing at the success of his stratagem. 

" An Englishman ? " 

" Exactly. And I assure you he devoted much 
zeal and attention to the business, and showed remark- 
able good will." And in a few words, he related the 
episode to Cuvelier, who concurred all the more heartily 
in praising the ingenuity of Napoleon's expedient, as 
the result was wholly satisfactory to himself. 



Letters written from Pont-de-Briques From the Pavilion 
Letter to Josephine Bonaparte's Writing One of the 
First Signatures of the Emperor. 

THERE are no documents, however exact, that give such 
an impression of life and reality as do the letters written 
by Napoleon from the camp at Boulogne. In reading 
them we can really judge of the man and the soldier, 
and enter into his hopes and anxieties. 

The letters written by Bonaparte from the Boulonnais 
are many in number ; but I will merely cite those which 
serve to initiate us into what one might call the inner- 
most soul of the hero, during the fateful period that 
elapsed between 1803-1805. The letters quoted here 
are among the National Archives or the ministerial 
records, and in private collections. 

Instead of announcing his visits of inspection a week 
or a fortnight beforehand as is the usual custom with 
our present-day functionaries, who are anxious to find 
everything in order Bonaparte, who always wished 
to ascertain everything for himself, generally appeared 
at the very moment when he was least expected. 


"BOULOGNE, 15 Brumaire, XII. (Nov. 5, 1803). 
" I went on Friday to visit the harbour at Bou- 
logne, and arrived quite unexpectedly. I took the 



greatest interest in inspecting all the works and pre- 
parations for the great expedition ... for at midnight 
I was at it still. 

" I spent most of the day in the roadstead, wher.e 
we have over a hundred ships moored in line. . . . 

" I am quartered in the very midst of the camp, 
and on the brink of the ocean, whence I can take in, 
at a glance, the distance which separates us from England. 


He was ubiquitous, for in 1803 everything required 


" BOULOGNE, November yth, 1803. 

" On Sunday I spent the day visiting the new 
ports of Ambleteuse and Wimereux, and making the 
troops quartered there go through their manoeuvres. 
The works are progressing satisfactorily. Ever since the 
late engagement, the enemy has kept out of sight ; it ap- 
pears that the ships returned to England to re- victual. 
I went to-day to inspect the naval workshops in every 
detail ; everything is in a most pitiable state. I have 
just had one of the barracks transformed into a naval 
arsenal, and have to give orders in the most trivial 

" I spent several hours inspecting the troops, man 
by man, and ascertaining for myself the condition of 
the various effectives. There is still sufficient work 
here to detain me for several days. 


After spending his days in visits of inspection, he 
curtailed his hours of rest in order to follow the night 



" BOULOGNE, November gth, 1803. 

" I spent a portion of last night making the 
troops practise night manoeuvres, for well-trained and 
disciplined troops can sometimes perform such man- 
oeuvres to great advantage in face of superior forces. 

A flotilla of twenty-five ships has just reached us 
from Havre. We expect at any moment, also from 
Havre, another such fleet, which put in at Saint-Valery- 

The Admiral has ordered the flotilla to come into 
port, the sea being very rough. The wind is blowing 
so violently from the south, that six of the gunboats 
have been compelled to put into Calais. It is feared 
that one of the boats, driven on the English coast by 
the force of the gale, has been captured by the enemy. 


Instead of giving vague orders, he stated distinctly 
what was required : so many carts wanted for the works 
in one place, or lodgings to be provided for workmen 
in another. 


" Commanding the Flotilla at Boulogne. 

" BOULOGNE, November qth, 1803. 

" Citizen Admiral Bruix, I am directing the Pre- 
fect of the Nord to supply you with 200 carpenters, 
and the Prefect of the Somme to supply you with 100. 
These workmen will be sent you. 

"It is absolutely essential to treble the present rate 
of activity in the works at Ambleteuse. I have asked 
the Prefects of the Nord and the Somme to send 200 
and ioo carts respectively. These carts are intended 


to accelerate the works at Ambleteuse. The army will 
provide 2,500 workmen. 

" The work of clearing out the Boulogne harbour 
must also be pushed on with increased activity ; let 
the number of workmen be doubled. 

" Quarters must be provided for all these men, and 
the proper plan would be to house them in buildings 
like barracks. We should require sufficient accommo- 
dation for a thousand men. 



" BOULOGNE, 19 Bmmaire, XII. (Nov. n, 1803). 

" Citizen Consul, I have received your letter of 
the i6th. The auditor, Chabrol, has brought me the 
report of the Council of State. The sea is horrible, and 
the rain never ceases. I spent the whole of yesterday 
inspecting the harbour, for there is always something 
that requires looking after. Otherwise, I have nothing 
to tell you. I expect the Minister of Marine either to-day 
or to-morrow. It is essential that I should see him, in 
order to ascertain the condition of the harbours at 
St. Malo and Havre, and to decide on the measures to 
be adopted. 



" BOULOGNE, 20 Brumaire, XII. (Nov. 12, 1803). 

"Citizen Consul, I have just received your letter 
of the 1 8th Brumaire. The sea is still very rough. I 
imagine that the Seine must be rising at last. 

" I spent the whole of yesterday at the harbour, 
either on horseback or in a boat, which means that I 
was soaked the whole of the day. But unless one is 
prepared to face the rain at this season, one would never 


do anything ; fortunately for me, it suits me perfectly, 
and I have never been better in my life. 

" I expect the Minister of Marine to-day, or to- 
morrow at latest. An English frigate has gone down, with 
all on board, between Boulogne and St. Valery. Many 
of the ship's belongings were washed ashore, amongst 
other things some documents. 


He gave his attention to the smallest particular. 


" In command of the camp at St. Omer. 
" BOULOGNE, 20 Brumaire, XII. (Nov. 12, 1803). 
" I observe that the soldiers have neither prickers, 
charge-extractors, nor portable water-bottles, on their 

" You must take steps to provide each man with a 
pricker, and every corporal with a charge-extractor ; 
and see that each man carries a water-bottle on his 
knapsack. The bottles should be able to hold a full 
bottle of wine. 


He remained ten days in Boulogne, as we can see 
by the following letter : 


" Commanding the camp at Bayonne. 
" BOULOGNE, 20 Brumaire, XII. (Nov. 12, 1803). 

" I have received your letter of the 7th Brumaire. 
I am giving orders to provide great-coats for all the 
corps that are to take part in the expedition to Ireland, 
of which you are to have the command. . . . 


" I have ordered a letter of marque to be forwarded 
as you desired. Send me a form of application containing 
the name of the captain who is to command the privateer. 

" I have been here for the last ten days, and have 
every reason to believe that within a fair amount of 
time, I shall attain the result that Europe is awaiting. 
We have six centuries of insults to avenge ! 


The army had to be supplied with a great number 
of various implements. 


" First Inspector-General of Engineers. 
" BOULOGNE, 23 Brumaire, XII. (Nov. 15, 1803). 

" Please collect at Boulogne, as quickly as pos- 
sible, 27,000 pioneers' implements. They must be fitted 
with handles, and you must be quite sure that they are 
of the best quality. They are intended to be put on 
board, in the proportion of twenty-seven tools to each 
vessel, and should be divided into the requisite number 
of shovels, pickaxes, mattocks, and axes. You must be 
careful to have none but tools that will wear well, and 
to store them as near as possible to the harbour, so as 
to facilitate their shipment. You should have an equal 
number of each of the tools placed on board the trans- 



" BOULOGNE, 24 Brumaire, XII. (Nov. 16, 1803). 

" The Minister of Marine arrived the day before 
yesterday. I have spent the last three days in the 


camps and at the harbour. Everything here has taken 
a start, and is advancing in the right direction. 

" I saw the coast of England from the heights of 
Ambleteuse as distinctly as one can see the Calvary 
from the Tuileries. I was able to distinguish the houses, 
and even objects moving. It is merely a ditch that will 
be crossed when we are bold enough to attempt the 
enterprise. The Seine must be in flood in Paris. It 
has never ceased raining here. There are over 200 ships 
at St. Malo in the roadstead, ready to set sail to join us. 
I hope that one division may arrive to-day. 


" I saw," Bonaparte wrote, " the coast of England 
from the heights of Ambleteuse as distinctly as one 
sees the Calvary from the Tuileries." What Calvary was 
he alluding to ? It seemed to me that the question was 
worth investigating. 

Many have supposed that he was thinking of the 
Calvary at Montmartre ; but this is an error, for that 
was only erected in 1840. The Calvary which Bonaparte 
refers to is the one that stood on Mont Valerien. In 
former days three crosses had been raised there by some 
hermits ; and in the seventeenth century a community 
of monks settled near the spot and founded a monastery, 
which was called " The Calvary," from its vicinity to 
the Crosses. 

The monastery was suppressed at the time of the 
Revolution and afterwards re-established, but was 
destroyed when the fortress was erected there in Louis 
Philippe's time. 

There are several views of the Mont Valerien Calvary 
in the collection of old prints in the Carnavalet 

In 1803, the Palace of the Tuileries (from which 


Bonaparte could see the Calvary) was quite complete, 
including the two pavilions of Flora and de Marsan. 

At the time of the Revolution, the Palace was just 
as Louis XIV. had left it. Louis XV. and Louis XVI. 
had made no alterations, and Bonaparte confined him- 
self to repairing the apartments which he was to inhabit. 
It was on February igth, 1800, that he established him- 
self at the Tuileries with the third Consul Lebrun. 

The latter was quartered in the pavilion of Flora, 
while the First Consul occupied a portion of the palace 
situated between that pavilion and the central one, in 
which was the Hall of the Marshals. Josephine's apart- 
ments were on the ground floor, on the side looking out 
on to the gardens. 

In some of his other letters, the First Consul concerns 
himself with the material welfare of the Grand Army. 


" Minister of the Interior. 
" BOULOGNE, 24 Brumaire, XII. (Nov. 16, 1803). 

" The roads of communication at Boulogne have 
not been sufficiently well laid. I send you the chief 
engineer's report. Place the necessary funds at his 
disposal. The amount of carting to be done is enormous, 
and unless the roads are repaired we should lose a great 
deal by delay. 

" I am satisfied with the spirit of the land and sea 
forces. " BONAPARTE." 


" Commissioner of Supplies. 

" BOULOGNE, 25 Brumaire, XII. (Nov. 17, 1803). 

" I have just received your letter of the 23rd 
Brumaire, in which you report the satisfactory condition 


of the service of the camps at Bruges. I have e very- 
reason to be satisfied with that of the camp at 
St. Omer. The supplies seemed to me to be of good 
quality, including even the tools and camp necessaries, 
which I had been told were remnants of stores. Let 
these remnants be used now in the camps ; but for ship- 
ment, procure shovels, pickaxes, and axes of the best 
quality only. . . . You must provide for shipment four 
shovels, four pickaxes, and four axes for each company. 

" I request you to give special attention to the 
efficiency of the hospitals at Boulogne, as I wish to have 
the fewest possible number of men having to leave the 

"With respect to one matter, no steps appear to have 
been taken at all that is to say, the brandy which has 
to be shipped. We shall want 300,000 pints ; forward 
half this quantity to Boulogne. Make a list of every- 
thing I have asked for, stating where it is to be found, 
and what supplies there are at the present moment. 
Address the report to me in Paris. I intend to visit 
the camp at Ostend next month. 


The letters that follow will give an idea of the activity 
he expected from his subordinates, and of which he was 
the first to give the example. 


" Aide-de-camp to the FIRST CONSUL. 
"BOULOGNE, 10 Nivose, XII. (Jan. i, 1804). 
" You must start at once for St. Valery. You 
will make a note of all the warships and transports of 
the flotilla that are in course of building and equipment, 
or that have put into the port. Ascertain whether all 


the artillery and rigging equipments are on the spot. 
Take note of the number of workmen employed on each 
gunboat. . . . 

" Make notes of all these things, and if military work- 
men are required you must go to Amiens, to General 
Klein, and find out how many workmen there are in 
the dragoon regiments. 

" You must arrange to be here by Tuesday. 



" Aide-de-camp to the FIRST CONSUL. 

" BOULOGNE, Nivdse, XII. (January, 1804). 

" You must start to-day for Flushing. You will 
inspect the. harbour works, and all the ships that are 
equipped, or being equipped, in the port. 

" You will then proceed to Bruges. At Flushing 
you will deliver the enclosed letter to Admiral Ver 
Huell. You must inspect the Dutch flotilla in every 
detail, and send me a report from Flushing. 

" From there you will go to Liege, from Liege to 
Mezieres, and from Mezieres to Paris. You will inspect 
the gun-factory at Liege and the two building yards on 
the Meuse at Liege and Mezieres. 


We find him making a complaint to the Minister 
because the horses were better looked after than the men. 


" BOULOGNE, 10 Nivose, XII. (Jan. i, 1804). 

" I observed to-day at the arsenal that the smiths 
were not working, because they had no forges. I have 
given orders to the artillery to supply four of these, 


which will be delivered to-morrow morning, before 
eight o'clock, at the arsenal. 

" I was sorry to see that although a large quantity 
of canvas had been supplied for the requirements of 
800 horses, not a single tent had been erected to shelter 
the workmen and to establish a workshop for mast- 
making. . . . ' 

[Then follows an order in which the future Emperor 
reveals himself.] 

" To-morrow, at eight o'clock, I shall inspect the 
whole flotilla in divisions. A naval commissioner will 
call the roll of all the officers and men on board 
the vessels. The moment I step on board each boat, 
the men will salute with three shouts of ' Long live the 
Republic ! ' and three of ' Long live the First Consul ! ' 
I shall be accompanied by the chief engineer, the com- 
missioner of armaments, and the colonel in command 
of the artillery. 

" During the inspection, the crews and troops man- 
ning the flotilla will remain at their quarters, and sentries 
will be placed to prevent anyone passing along the quay 
and watching the flotilla. 

" All shallops that are unequipped, and caiques unat- 
tached to any division, will take the place assigned to them 
by the Admiral. Each vessel will have her boat alongside. 

" At the moment when I set foot on the first boat, 
a salute of sixty rounds will be fired from the flag-ship 
or from the pier battery. The officers, sailors, and 
troops will be in full dress. 



" BOULOGNE, 12 Nivose, XII. (Jan. 3, 1804). 

" I spent the whole of yesterday and the day 
before, making various inspections and going about 


the ports. I am about to start on an excursion to Amble- 
teuse and Wimereux ; I may even go as far as Calais. 
I am feeling very well. The weather is becoming 
finer. ... " BONAPARTE." 

In the archives of the First Empire is a rather inter- 
esting document concerning a priest who celebrated a 
special Mass once a week, in order that Providence might 
watch over the First Consul. 

" Decision. 

" BOULOGNE, 14 Nivdse, XII. (Jan 5, 1804). 
" D'Augier, incumbent of Villers-sur-Marne, wish- 
ing to pay a tribute of respect and gratitude to the 
First Consul, has offered to celebrate Mass for him every 

" I request Citizen Portalis to thank this ecclesiastic, 
and to send me a report concerning him. 


On one occasion some Boulogne fishermen were taken 
prisoners by the enemy, and Napoleon expressed his 
displeasure in the following terms : 


" In command of the camp at St. Omer. 

" PARIS, 13 Ventose, XII. (March 4, 1804). 

" You are at liberty to set the three Boulogne 
sailors free ; but let them thoroughly understand that 
they had better not let themselves be caught again by 
the English, for experience proves that fishermen are 
only captured when they are willing to be taken, and 
it is most suspicious. . . . 




" In command of the camp at Montr euil. 

" PARIS, 19 Ventose, XII. (March 10, 1804). 

" Agree with General Soult as to the boundary 
of the sphere of each army along the coast between 
Etaples and Boulogne ; so that in case of accidents 
occurring, and boats going ashore, without being pro- 
tected by artillery, it may be known who is the officer 
responsible. . . . 

" Make your division practise rowing, on shallops or 
even on gunboats. You have a fine open space for this 
in the bay. Let me know what distance a gunboat and 
a shallop can cover in half an hour by rowing, without 
sails, and at flood-tide. 



" In command of the camp at Montr euil. 

" ST. CLOUD, 24 Germinal, XII. (April 14, 1804). 

" I am very pleased with the reports I have just 
received from you, and am much interested in the matter 
of the depth of the water in the bay of Etaples. Before 
constructing a fort on the reef of the ' Dogs,' the two 
forts at Boulogne must be completed. But we will 
consider the question more fully at my next visit, which 
I trust will not be delayed. 


In the following letter, Bonaparte, now the Emperor 
Napoleon, asks the opinion of the admiral in command, 
in terms of real deference : 



" In command of the flotilla at Boulogne. 

" LA MALMAISON, 14 Messidor, XII. (July 3, 1804). 

" I submit you three cases. Before coming to a 
decision on the question, I should like to have your 
opinion .... The flotilla is composed of 1,800 boats, 
of which there are 700 at Boulogne, 290 at Etaples, 
340 at Wimereux, and 437 at Amble teuse. I have not 
included the 20 praams, which must be stationed in 
whichever harbour is most convenient, and most easy 
of egress. 

" I wish you, therefore, to let me have your opinion 
on these questions : 

" (i) Can each harbour accommodate the number 
of boats apportioned to it ? 

" (2) Is it possible for these boats to leave their 
respective harbours on two tides ? 

" (3) Finally, would it be more advantageous to 
augment the number of boats at Etaples, and diminish 
it at Boulogne ; or to augment the boats at Calais ? 


The following letter to Josephine, written from 
Pont-de-Briques, has already been given in its entirety 
in the chapter on Bruix : 


" PONT-DE-BRIQUES, 2 Thermidor, XII. 

" (July 21, 1804). 

" During my four days of absence from you, I 
have been continually on horseback, or on the move, 
without being any the worse for it in health. 


" M. Maret has informed me that you intend leaving 
on Monday, and if you travel by short stages, you will 
have time to reach the waters without fatiguing yourself. 



" PONT-DE-BRIQUES, 2 Thermidor, XII. 

" (July 21, 1804). 

" I have received your letter of the 30th Messidor. 
I am well satisfied with the spirit and the aspect of the 
departments I travelled through, and am no less pleased 
with the condition and spirit of the land and sea forces. 
" I inspected the harbour, and spent most of last 
night on the coast, giving assistance to a gunboat 
that had dragged her anchors. The gale was blow- 
ing from the north-east. Fortunately, we sustained 
no great damage ; only two small shallops were 
wrecked. . . . 


The following letters show his care for the soldiers' 
comfort : 


" PONT-DE-BRIQUES, 6 Thermidor, XII. 
" (July 25, 1804). 

" The five divisions of shallops that I visited 
this morning appeared, on the whole, to be well found. 
" I wish you, as much as possible, to have the caron- 
ades of 12 which are good for nothing replaced by 
6 inch Prussian howitzers. . . . 

" I wish you also to see whether it would not be 
possible to have hammocks slung on the shallops, so 


that the men should be more comfortable ; and to ascer- 
tain whether something could be done to make the 
tarpaulins and tents more secure. 

" To-morrow, when the boats are afloat, I shall 
review all the gunboats and flat-bottomed gunboats. I 
wish all the divisions to unite and every man to be 
present ; the General Inspector of Reviews must attend 
with the roll-call. 



" PONT-DE-BRIQUES, 7 Thermidor, XII. 

" (July 26, 1804). 

" My intention is to have the eighteen battalions 
of grenadiers of the reserve, commanded by General 
Junot, encamped within range of the circular basin at 
Boulogne, wishing that division to protect the shallops. 
Please have a site chosen for the encampment, and 
find out whether the requisite tents and other camp 
necessaries are at Boulogne. I also wish to know what 
still requires to be done, and what it would cost to finish 
the camp that Dupont's division was to occupy, so that 
three regiments may be encamped there. 

" The navy really requires another fifty Prussian 
howitzers at Boulogne. Let me know where these are 
to be procured. 


1 _ 

It was from the camp at Boulogne that the new 
Emperor decided upon the alterations to be made in 
the flags ; they were to retain the three colours, but the 
eagle was to be the principal feature. 



" PONT-DE-BRIQUES, 8 Thermidor, XII. 

" (July 27, 1804). 

" The Emperor wishes the flags given to the 
army to be different in form to what they are at present. 
The eagle with wings outspread, as on the Imperial 
Seal, will be on the head of the flagstaff, as was done 
in the time of the Romans ; and the colours will be at 
the same distance below the eagle as was the labarum. 
It must be made much smaller than the flags now in 
use, which are very inconvenient ; and must be tri- 
coloured also. The flag can be reduced to one-half 
its present size, and must bear the words : ' The Em- 
peror of the French, to such and such a regiment.' 

" The essential feature of the standard would be the 
eagle, and the material could be renewed whenever 
necessary. . . . Only, the eagle must be made strong 
and light at the same time. 

" The Emperor wishes you to have a model made, 
and you will then take his final instructions on the form 
to be adopted for the flags. 

" By order of the Emperor." 

In August, 1804, Napoleon occupied himself with 
the arrangements for the coronation ceremony, and di- 
rected the following letter to be written on the subject : 

" To M. DE SEGUR, 

" Grand Master of the Ceremonies. 

" PONT-DE-BRIQUES, 15 Thermidor, XII. 
" SIR,- " (August 3, 1804). 

:< The Emperor has taken cognisance of the plan 
you have submitted to him concerning the decree for 


the ceremonial of the coronation. Before giving you 
his opinion on the different clauses in the report, his 
Majesty has thought it necessary to make several re- 
marks, which he has directed me to transmit to you. 

" Many people have thought that the ceremony would 
prove very difficult to arrange in the Church of the 
Invalides ; the bishops and priests would not be suit- 
ably placed there, for want of a choir ; and all the 
people who are to attend the ceremony would scarcely 
find sufficient accommodation, even supposing that the 
representatives of the army were not present. However, 
it is considered that the absence of the representatives 
of the army would be quite contrary to the fitness of 
things on such an occasion as this. ... It is also in- 
dispensable that the throne on which the Emperor and 
Empress are to be seated, surrounded by their respective 
households, should be placed in a space which must 
necessarily be large, if it is to be at all convenient. But 
the Invalides can neither provide sufficient accommo- 
dation for the assembly nor a suitable space for the 

" On the other hand, it is thought that 20,000 men 
could easily be accommodated in Notre Dame that 
sufficient space will be found in the choir for the throne ; 
and also, that if there be any religious ceremony, it will 
only be seen in detail by the priests, or by men who, 
from superior intelligence, have still as much faith in 
them as men had in the eighth century. 

" By order of the Emperor." 

On the same day the Emperor wrote to the Pope, 
to calm his apprehensions with regard to the attitude 
of Russia towards the Roman Court, and his letter ends 
thus : 



" PONT-DE-BRIQUES, August 3, 1804. 
" Your Holiness need have no anxiety ; there will 
be no continental disturbance of any consequence. We 
pray that God may keep you, Holy Father, for many 
years, at the head of our Mother, the Holy Church. 
" Your devout son, the Emperor of the French, 

(Archives of Foreign Affairs.) 


"CALAIS, 18 Thermidor, XII. 

" (August 6th, 1804.) 

" I arrived at Calais at midnight, and think of 
starting this evening for Dunkirk. I am well pleased 
with what I have seen, and am in fairly good health. 
I hope you may derive as much benefit from the waters 
as I do from the general stir and commotion, and from 
the sight of the fields and sea. Eugene has started for 
Blois. Hor tense is well. Louis has gone to Plombieres. 
I am longing to see you. You are always necessary to 
my happiness. Greetings to everybody. 


Several letters are dated from his pavilion ; this 
one, for instance : 



" August tyth, 1804. 

" MONSIEUR DE TALLEYRAND (Minister of Foreign Re- 

" I enclose a statement of the method by which I 
think we should come to an understanding with Austria. 


What she really wants is not clear ; if she is prepared to be 
reasonable, the purport of the note ought to meet with 
her approval. I have already written to tell you that 
I will see you at Aix-la-Chapelle, and that I will receive 
M. de Cobenzl there as well. There is nothing to pre- 
vent M. de Gallo going there too. 


(Archives of Foreign Affairs as minute to the archives 
of the Empire.) 

To conclude the subject of the letters sent from 
the Boulogne Camp, I will give an extract of a second 
letter from the Emperor to the Pope, written in terms 
of profound respect : 


" PONT-DE-BRIQUES, August, 1804. 

" We have been very much affected by your 
Holiness's letter, because we always sympathise with 
your griefs. The decree of the vice-president of the 
Italian Republic, relating to the Concordat of the Re- 
public, with which your Holiness is dissatisfied, has been 
reported to us. It is our intention to prevent any in- 
fringement of that which has been agreed upon between 
ourselves. We trust that in this circumstance, as in 
all those which have preceded it, your Holiness will be 
convinced of our attachment to the principles of religion 
and to your person. 

" May God preserve you, Holy Father, for many 
years, at the head of our Mother, the Holy Church. 

' Your devout son, the Emperor of the French, 



The future Emperor retained the original spelling 
of his name up to the end of February, 1796, and signed 
himself : 

But in the same year, when he issued his famous 
proclamation at Milan, dated May 20th " Soldiers ! 
you rushed down like a torrent from the heights of the 
Apennines : Milan is yours " he signed himself : 

As commander-in-chief of the expedition in Egypt he 
continued to sign himself : 

On his accession to the Imperial throne he signed 
himself " Napoleon " ; the following is a reproduction 
in fac-simile of one of the first signatures he gave as 
Emperor. It was written on May 25th, 1804. 

Napoleon's writing was always very bad ; in fact, 
it was sometimes illegible. On one occasion, an aged 


and poor-looking man presented himself at the Palace 
of St. Cloud, and asked Duroc to obtain an interview 
for him with the Emperor. 

On being ushered into the Emperor's presence, he 
introduced himself as his old writing-master. 

" And a fine pupil you made of me ! " said Napoleon 
ironically. " I cannot congratulate you on the result of 
your teaching." 

It is said, however, that he dismissed him with kind 
words, and handed him a warrant entitling him to a 
pension of 1,200 francs. Bonaparte showed his gratitude 
and liberality to all his masters and servants ; even 
Hante, the old porter at Brienne, was not forgotten in 
the distribution of favours. 

The Emperor has been accused of many faults, but 
ingratitude was certainly never one of them. He 
possessed, to an eminent degree, the quality of gratitude, 
so rare among parvenus ; and when at the height of his 
prosperity, he still liked to renew, on the old familiar 
terms, his acquaintance with those who had known him 
before he counted for very much in the world. 

The reader will probably like to see the fac-simile 
of Napoleon's autograph, dated from the Boulogne Camp. 




Was the Scheme for Crossing the Straits Capable of Realisation ? 
Were the Flotilla and Boulogne Camp a Pretence ? 
What did England Think of the Project, and What was her 
Attitude ? Opinions of Pitt, Nelson, and Sir Walter Scott 
Did Bonaparte Believe in the Possibility of the Invasion ? 
Conclusion . 

WAS the scheme for crossing the Straits by the flotilla 
capable of realisation, or was it only an Utopian project ? 
Granting that it could be carried out, what concurrence 
of events was necessary for the success of the enterprise ? 
Did England ever feel that she was seriously threatened ? 
Did Bonaparte really mean to attempt the bold adventure, 
or was it merely a feint on his part, to turn the attention 
of Europe towards a plan he knew to be chimerical, in 
order to conceal from everyone his real intentions ? 

In other words, did he form the camp at Boulogne, 
facing England, merely as a plausible pretext for organ- 
ising and training the Grand Army, which was to reap 
so much glory in the marvellous campaign of 1805 ? 

All these are questions which I propose to consider 
rapidly in this chapter, especially as various recent 
publications have revived their historic interest, and 
made them, more or less, topics of the moment. For 
instance, in an important work, " Projects for landing 
in the British Islands," M. Desbrieres throws doubt 
on the sincerity of the projects. " To scare England, 
to secure political advantages, both at home and abroad, 


and to have a large army in good training perhaps 
this was all that Napoleon really wanted." 

Nothing can help us so much towards the elucidation 
of the question as to consider whether England took 
the threatened invasion seriously or the reverse, and 
whether she behaved like a nation who really felt herself 
imperilled by what were termed " the nutshells." No 
evidence could throw better light on the matter. 

Now a whole series of unquestionable facts go to 
prove that England, far from scoffing at the proposed 
invasion, or flattering herself that the destruction of 
the flotilla would be an easy matter, strove, on the 
contrary, by every means in her power, to paralyse 
the organisation of the sea-forces. Her secret agents 
swarmed along the coast, and were instructed to find 
out the effective of the various army corps ; to ascertain 
the spirit which animated the troops and the extent of 
their military knowledge, and also to learn the meaning 
of the signals, and the positions of the various batteries. 

The author has in his possession several English 
maps, dating from this period, on which everything is 
marked, to the minutest details. 

The spies conveyed their intelligence by secret 
correspondence, and by means of rockets, or fires lit 
at night on certain places along the cliffs. 

An active system of watching was established all 
along the coast, and many of the emissaries were arrested 
and tried by court-martial. On loth Brumaire, XIII., 
no less than fifteen spies were brought to trial before 
the same court, and six of them were sentenced to 

The enemy, fearing that the flat-bottomed boats 
might escape their powerful fleet, proposed blockading 
the flotilla by sinking ships laden with stones at the 
entrance of the harbour. They were obliged, however, 


to abandon this project, and found other expedients, 
such as directing against the harbour, sloops, cutters 
and brigs, on board which explosive machines had been 
lighted. But as these craft were too easily sighted, 
because of their size, the English invented a species of 
" explosive barrels," which were cast adrift towards the 
shore, or the line of ships. " These barrels were partly 
filled with gunpowder, and held in a vertical position, 
by means of shot used as ballast, and were provided 
with mechanism which determined the explosion on 
their coming into contact with a hard substance." 

Admiral Keith appeared before Boulogne on gth 
Vendemiaire with a squadron of fifty- two warships, 
and provided with a number of these machines. How- 
ever, the flotilla managed to elude nearly all the fireships, 
which ran ashore and exploded against the rocks, making 
much noise but doing little damage. 

Another kind of fireship the catamarans to which 
I have already alluded were large wooden chests lined 
with copper, " provided with clockwork mechanism, and 
a battery." 

While the flotilla and the Grand Army were being 
organised in France, what was happening in England ? 
Was the organisation of an army of defence considered 
a matter of urgency ? Did the British public contemplate 
the possibility of London really being attacked by the 
invader, or did they scoff at the vain threats ? 

The following facts are the best answer to these 
questions, inasmuch as they show that England resorted 
to armaments on a vast scale, thereby giving incontestable 
proof of her uneasiness at this period in her history. 

When peace relations were broken with France, 
England had a regular army of 130,000, and a militia 
of about 70,000. To these forces were added, first a 
reserve of 50,000 men, levied by conscription, and sub- 


sequently, when the rumours of invasion gained more 
substance, the Government brought in a military service 
Bill, by which all able-bodied men between the ages of 
seventeen and fifty- two might be called upon to serve. 
The new measure, which the Government only enforced 
in moderation, produced, by the end of the summer, 1803, 
a force of 300,000 volunteers, who were exercised un- 
remittingly in manual drill. These various forces made 
a total of 550,000 combatants, of unequal worth, no 
doubt, but all determined to fight for their country, and 
for their national existence. 

The Annual Register of 1803 states that the number 
of volunteers in the month of December, 1803, amounted 
in Great Britain to 379,943 ; and in Ireland to 82,241. 

Without taking too seriously the suggestion of enrolling 
women in the militia (as Lady Jerningham proposed for 
the county of Norfolk, in the event of invasion), it is 
very certain that from the autumn of 1802, volunteer 
corps were organised all over the country. 

The general activity increased ; bodies were formed, 
which were incongruous no doubt, but none the less 
determined to fight. The great noblemen raised troops 
at their own cost, and companies were formed in every 
district by enrolling men from fifteen to twenty years of 

Would the country succeed in organising a national 
militia ? or would it be necessary to quarter the troops 
in the districts ? No one could tell, for though the 
spirit of patriotism was raised to the highest pitch, there 
was no general order, no concerted plan of action, and 
Lord Hobart was at a loss how best to utilise all the 
zeal fostered by the imminence of the peril. 

As for the English navy, it only possessed, in 1802, 
39 battleships, besides, of course, a multitude of smaller- 
sized vessels, frigates and sloops ; but from November, 


1803, the number of ships-of-the-line was increased to 

" Every mode of defence necessitated by circum- 
stances was duly organised. Fortifications were raised 
around London, to protect the capital against a sudden 
attack, and give the army time to come to the rescue. 
A system of signals was established, which were intended 
to give the alarm on the first appearance of the enemy, 
and great chariots, drawn by six horses, and capable of 
transporting 60 men at a time, were placed at the disposal 
of each corps, to facilitate the concentration of troops at 
the rallying points. 

: ' The naval preparations were in no way inferior to 
those of the land forces. On loth June a levy of 40,000 
seamen was added to the 80,000 England already 
numbered on her warships. 

" Seventy-five battleships, shortly afterwards in- 
creased to over 100 ; a hundred frigates ; several hundred 
brigs and sloops of war ; 800 gun-boats, more especially 
employed for coast defence, and finally a multitude of 
despatch boats, forming a sort of telegraphic system 
such was the formidable armament which served the 
threefold purpose of protecting England, blockading our 
ports, and pursuing our squadrons." 

" To give an idea of the extraordinary wave of 
patriotism that swept over the whole country, we need 
only recall the fact that Pitt, though sorely stricken in 
health, spent the remnant of his life in drilling daily 
the 3,000 volunteers he had enrolled himself at Walmer 
Castle, and that he induced the surrounding localities 
to build 150 gunboats. 

" As for the expenditure necessitated by such a 
display of force, it was provisionally met by the raising 
of a loan of 12,000,000 sterling, and by an increase of 
excise duties and of the income tax, to the extent of a 


sum almost equal to that of the loan. These special 
funds, added to those produced by the enormous budget 
the burden of which would have crushed any other 
nation but England were to supply the first require- 
ments and enable the English Cabinet to create diversions 
either in Europe or even in France." * 

If a landing had been considered impossible in England, 
would the Government have fortified London, armed so 
many men, and equipped so many battleships ? 

Sir Walter Scott, in the " Antiquary," alludes to the 
terror inspired by the threatened invasion : " The 
French are coming to murder us ! " screams Miss Griselda. 
" The beacon is lighted ! " cries Miss Mclntyre, for 
beacons had been erected as signals, and were to give 
the alarm for the general arming of forces. " Woman- 
kind, be composed," said Oldbuck, in great agitation, 
" are you sure they are come ? " And in a note the 
following explanation is given textually : 

" The story of the false alarm at Fairport, and the 
consequences, are taken from a real incident. Those 
who witnessed the state of Britain, and of Scotland in 
particular, from the period that succeeded the war which 
commenced in 1803, to the Battle of Trafalgar, must 
recollect those times with feelings which we can hardly 
hope to make the rising generation comprehend. Almost 
every individual was enrolled in a military or civil capacity, 
for the purpose of contributing to resist the long-suspended 
threats of invasion, which were echoed from every 
quarter. Beacons were erected along the coast, and all 
through the country, to give the signal for everyone to 
repair to the post where his particular duty called him, 
and men of every description, fit to serve, held themselves 
in readiness on the shortest summons. During this 
agitating period, and on the evening of February 2nd, 

* " (i) History of Napoleon by Lanfrey, III." Annual Register for 1804. 


1804, the person who kept watch on the commanding 
station of Home Castle, being deceived by some accidental 
fire in the county of Northumberland, which he took for 
the corresponding signal-light in that county with which 
his orders were to communicate, lighted up his own beacon. 
The signal was immediately repeated through all the 
valleys on the English border. If the beacon at Saint- 
Abb's Head had been fired, the alarm would have run 
northward and roused all Scotland. But the watch at 
this important point judiciously considered that if there 
had been an actual or threatened descent on our eastern 
sea-coast, the alarm would have come along the coast, 
and not from the interior of the country. 

" Through the Border counties the alarm spread with 
rapidity, and on no occasion, when that country was the 
scene of perpetual and unceasing warfare, was the sum- 
mons to arms more readily obeyed." 

* * * # * * 

" There were some particulars in the general alarm 
which are curious and interesting. The men of Liddes- 
dale, the most remote point to the westward which the 
alarm reached, were so much afraid of being late in the 
field, that they put in requisition all the horses they 
could find, and when they had thus made a forced march 
out of their county, they turned their borrowed steeds 
loose to find their way back through the hills, and they 
all got back safe to their own stables." 

Sir Walter Scott's important work, " The Life of 
Napoleon," in nine volumes (1825), contains much that 
is instructive and sound of judgment, whenever England 
is not implicated. The motto at the commencement of 
the book, leaves very little doubt on the author's senti- 
ments with regard to the modern Caesar : 

" Impellens quidquid sibi summa petenti 
Obstaret, gaudensque viam fecisse ruina." 


In this work Sir Walter Scott sacrifices too much to 
national susceptibilities, and modifies historical facts, 
in his endeavour to prove that no one in England ever 
thought seriously of the possibility of a descent, and that 
it was but an empty boast on the part of Napoleon. 

He relates that the ardour of the French troops was 
excited by adroit references to fortunate omens ; that a 
Roman axe had been discovered at the spot on which 
Bonaparte's tent was pitched, and that they were shown 
medals of William the Conqueror, said to have been 
unearthed at that place. 

Then Scott, forgetting the fears which he had described 
so graphically in previous works, takes pride in stating 
that Nelson had declared the crossing of the Channel 
with rowing boats to be impossible, and the sailing of a 
hostile armament from Boulogne to be a most forlorn 

However, to these statements, two answers might be 
made ; first, that Bonaparte was one of those who can 
conceive, and carry out, the boldest enterprises, for he 
proved it on more than one occasion ; and secondly, if 
it is a fact that Great Britain had nothing to fear, why 
all this alarm, and why these formidable armaments 
intended to repulse an imaginary invader ? 

Sir Walter Scott comes nearer the point when, on 
the same page, he estimates that the expedition was not 
materially impossible, but only "in a great measure 

Nelson also subsequently amended his first statement 
with regard to the passage across the Straits, honestly 
adding : "I may pronounce it almost impracticable." 

If the invasion was merely a threat to scare England, 
why had Pitt donned his uniform at the very first alarm, 
and deserted his peaceful game of chess, to busy himself 
with military preparations, fortresses and batteries ? 


Why had emergency camps been formed in Sussex and 
Kent, and on the cliffs around Dover ? Why did the 
Cabinet of St. James expend so much effort in trying 
to revive and utilise the dissatisfaction of the Jacobins, 
the resentment of the Royalists, and the jealousy of the 
Generals, in order to unite these extreme parties in one 
common bond of hatred towards Bonaparte ? And 
finally, why did George the Third, in spite of his age, 
leave the royal household, in order to spend all his days 
holding reviews ? The question appears to be solved, 
as far as the fears of England are concerned. 

And now let us consider the second part of the problem : 
Did Napoleon himself believe in the possibility of an 
invasion ? Though Bonaparte planned an expedition 
against England and made preparations for it, he never 
deceived himself as to the difficulties attendant on such 
an enterprise, and therefore one is not justified in making 
him contradict himself by adopting the views of such 
men as Metternich and Wolf Tone, who may have had 
their reasons for looking upon the concentration of the 
flotilla as a mere comedy. 

On April 23rd, 1798, Bonaparte had already made 
the following declaration to the Directory : "To effect 
an invasion of England, without having the mastery of 
the sea, is the boldest and most difficult operation that 
could be imagined. The only way possible would be 
to make a surprise passage, either by evading the squadron 
blockading Brest, or Texel, or else by landing with little 
boats during the night, at some point in Kent or Sussex, 
after a passage of seven or eight hours." 

Thiers, in his book on the " Consulate and the Empire," 
speaks of Bonaparte's schemes in connection with Eng- 
land. The First Consul is represented as having had 
a private interview on Februray i8th, 1803, with 
Lord Whit worth, in which, after inviting the English 


Ambassador to the Tuileries to discuss the Peace of 
Amiens, he appears to have disclosed his thoughts with 
singular frankness. 

He is reported to have concluded the statements he made 
to Lord Whitworth with the following declaration : 

" And now, if you doubt my earnest wish to maintain 
peace, listen, and judge for yourself of the extent of my 
sincerity. When still very young, I acquired a power 
and a renown which could not well be surpassed. Now 
do you imagine that I should be willing to risk this power 
and renown in a hopeless struggle ? If I wage war with 
Austria I shall not be troubled to find the way to Vienna. 
If I engage in war with you I shall separate you from 
all your allies in Europe, and shall shut you out of 
all access to the Continent, from the Baltic to the Gulf 
of Tarentum. You will blockade us, but I shall blockade 
you in return ; you will confine us to the Continent, but 
I shall confine you to the seas. However, to make an 
end of it, we shall have to employ more direct methods ; 
we must collect 150,000 men, and an immense flotilla, 
attempt the passage across the Straits, and perhaps sink 
my fortune, my glory, and myself at the bottom of the 
sea. A descent on England is rash indeed, my lord." 
And so saying, the First Consul, to the intense astonish- 
ment of his hearer, began to enumerate all the difficulties 
and dangers of such an enterprise, the vast amount of 
material, and the number of men and of ships which it 
would be necessary to accumulate in the Straits, and 
which he would not fail to accumulate, in order to crush 

To enumerate before a mortal enemy " the diffi- 
culties and dangers of an enterprise in which he risked 
sinking his fortune, himself and his glory at the bottom 
of the sea," strikes one as being so impolitic an act, that 
one can understand the anxiety of Thiers to warn the 


reader in a note that, though he is able to vouch for the 
gist of the discourse, many different versions have been 
given of the conversation. 

We have no difficulty in believing this. 

But still according to Thiers Bonaparte is sup- 
posed to have added, "with unusual energy," the following 
remarks, in which we have less difficulty in recognising 
the future Emperor, and in which he betrays his readiness 
to venture on the enterprise if he were constrained to do 
so, by events. 

" This act of rashness, my lord, I am determined to 
attempt, if you compel me to do so. For this great enter- 
prise has chances of success, with me, which it would have 
with no one else. I crossed the Alps in winter, I know 
how to make things possible which appear impossible 
to ordinary men, and if I succeed, your posterity will 
weep tears of blood over the effects of the resolution 

you compelled me to take You have a navy 

which I could not hope to equal were I to devote the 
constant efforts of ten years of my life to attain that end, 
but I have 500,000 men ready to march under my orders, 
wherever I choose to lead them. ..." 

On November 4th, 1803, Bonaparte arrived at 
Boulogne, and by two o'clock in the morning, in spite of 
bad weather, the line of ships had been formed and moored 
before the harbour. On this occasion, there was a sharp 
engagement with English cruisers. The next day the 
First Consul wrote the following letter, which we have 
already partly quoted : 


" BOULOGNE, i$th Brumaire, XII. 

(November $th> 1803). 

" I went on Friday to visit the harbour of Boulogne, 
where I arrived quite unexpectedly. I took the greatest 


interest in inspecting all the works and preparations for 
the great expedition, for at midnight I was at it still. 

" I spent most of the day in the roadstead, where we 
have over 100 ships moored in line. 

" We had a sharp encounter with the enemy, who 
attacked us with ten ships, several of which were two- 
deckers. One frigate was dismasted. We saw, them go 
to rescue a frigate, which we have every reason to believe 
was struck by a shell. 

' The enemy then made for the open, whereupon a 
division of caiques, carrying a piece of ' 24,' followed 
in pursuit, keeping up a constant fire. On our side 
one man had his leg shot away, and a boat, with a crew 
of five men, was struck by a cannon-ball which caused 
her to sink, but she was righted, and the five men were 

" I am quartered in the very midst of the camp, and 
on the brink of the ocean, whence I can take in, at a 
glance, the distance which separates us from England. 


Then again if we look back at Admiral Bruix's corre- 
spondence with Napoleon and the Minister of Marine, 
we can have no doubts as to these two points, namely, 
that the admiral was fully convinced of the feasibility 
of the project, and that all preparations necessary for its 
success were faithfully carried out. 

As to the First Consul, his intentions with regard to 
the invasion are sufficiently shown by the following 
incident, and by a letter to Cambaceres, to whom he 
certainly could not write mere idle matter without 
running the risk of discrediting himself. 

On one occasion, when the atmosphere was particularly 
clear (Nov. i6th, 1803), the First Consul, who was walking 
along the cliffs, saw the white coast of Dover so distinctly 


that he wrote to Cambaceres a letter which we have 
already quoted, and in which this passage occurs : 
" I saw the coast of England from the heights of Amble- 
teuse as distinctly as one can see the Calvary from the 
Tuileries. I was able to distinguish the houses, and even 
objects moving; it is merely a ditch that will be crossed 
when we are bold enough to attempt the enterprise." 

Whoever happens to have found himself anywhere 
between Gris-Nez and Ambleteuse under similar condi- 
tions, has probably experienced the same feeling ; indeed, 
it seems impossible to believe that there is a distance of 
at least seven leagues between the two points that face 
each other in the narrowest part of the Straits. 

On his returning to Paris Bonaparte wrote, on November 
28th, 1803, to the Maritime Prefect of Toulon, General 
Ganteaume : 


" I am sending you General Rapp, one of my aides- 
de-camp, who is to stay a few days at Toulon. I informed 
you two months ago that I expected 10 battleships, 4 frigates, 
and 4 sloops of war to be ready to sail from Toulon by the 
middle of Frimaire ; and that I wished this squadron to 
be stored with 4 months' supplies for 25,000 infantry. 

" I have just returned from Boulogne, which is full of 
activity, and where I hope to have, by the middle of Nivose, 
300 gunboats, 500 boats, 500 shallops, each shallop carry- 
ing a howitzer of 36. The flotilla is able to transport 100,000 
men. Given eight hours of night and propitious weather, 
and we can decide the fate of the world." 

One day the English scouts thought that the decisive 
moment had arrived, and that the enemy's troops were con- 
centrating to embark. A general order was at once given 
to prepare for action, and fourteen magnificent battle- 
ships approached in a first line of attack. The little 


French boats went resolutely to meet the formidable 
front, and before very long, the naval giants were in 
full retreat, riddled with shot and disabled, and making 
for the different ports, to land the wounded and repair 
damages. This is an instance of what the "nutshells" 
could do. 

What might not have happened if the flotilla had 
been supported by the fleets of Spain and Holland ; 
and the combined forces had been able to carry out a 
concerted plan of action ? 

A few months before this event, on January 7th, 1804, 
Bonaparte received a communication from Decres, 
who was perhaps the least sanguine, with regard to the 
scheme, of all the men about the First Consul. 

" BOULOGNE, January jth, 1804. 

" People are beginning firmly to believe in the flotilla, 
and are convinced that the sailing of the expedition is nearer 
at hand than was supposed ; everyone has promised me to 
prepare seriously for the event. They forget all about the 
dangers, and can think of nothing but Caesar and his for- 

" The subalterns' ideas are confined to the roadstead and 
its currents. They argue like angels about wind, anchorage, 
and the line of ships. As for the passage across the Straits, 
that is your affair. You know more about that than they 
do, and your eyes are better than their spectacles. They 
have absolute faith in anything you undertake." 

And at the end of the letter Decres admits the possi- 
bility of effecting the crossing " by sacrificing a hundred 
ships in order to draw the enemy's fire." 

As it was Bonaparte's intention to have between 
two and three thousand boats, the sacrifice of a hundred 
was admissible. 

The scheme inspired general confidence, not only in 


the regions of the coast, but throughout the whole 
country; warlike mottoes were to be seen everywhere. 
For instance, at Amiens, on the gateway leading to 
Calais, was the inscription, " Road to England," and 
elsewhere : "A favourable wind and thirty-six hours." 
The following words were inscribed by a man of the 
Guard of Honour on the front of his house : " France 
loves him, England fears him, and the world admires 
him ! " 

The starting point of Napoleon's critics, with regard 
to the descent on England, was always the contrast they 
sought to establish between the vastness of the project 
itself and the means he proposed for its realisation. 
Now his pretended hesitation may have been but well- 
calculated dissimulation, and if is added to the ideas 
he may really have had in his mind, his great desire of 
forwarding the preparations of various plans corresponding 
to certain eventualities, one is hardly justified in assuming 
a problem to be unsolvable, whilst ignorant of its given 

These innermost thoughts are to be inferred by a 
system of reticence and secret orders, of which there are 
many examples in the official correspondence. 

For instance, from Mayence, on September 29th, 1804,* 
the Emperor sent word to the Minister of War to give 
General Lauriston command of the troops at Toulon, 
and added : "I wish General Lauriston's appointment 
to be kept secret as long as possible ; he is to proceed to 
his station as though he were going on an ordinary 

Then he wrote to the Minister of Marine : " You can 
summon the naval captain now at Boulogne, who knows 

* Date of plan of concerted action, replacing the one of the 25th May, 
which had become inapplicable owing to the delay in the armaments of 
Brest and Toulon, and especially owing to the death of Admiral Latouche- 


the sea of Guiana.* You are to say nothing to him. 
He will start for Toulon at the last moment, go straight 
to General de Villeneuve, and will do everything he can 
to conceal his going on board." 

When a man plays a game, even if it is nothing more 
than a simple game of draughts, he does not tell his 
adversary his reasons for moving a particular piece .... 
still less, then, was the man who played a complex and 
formidable game on the world's chessboard, likely to 
divulge his schemes beforehand. 

Indeed it was at this very date that three expeditions 
were planned to be undertaken simultaneously ; the first, 
to protect Martinique, Guadeloupe, and St. Lucia from 
all attack ; the second, to seize Surinam and the other 
Dutch colonies ; and the third was against Saint Helena. 

Certain extracts from Napoleon's correspondence, 
taken from the letters of the last period, show that he 
had very seriously considered a scheme for invading 
Ireland, to create a diversion. 


" September zjth, 1804. 

; ' The expedition to Ireland is settled. You 
must confer with Marshal Augereau on the matter. 
We have the means of embarking 18,000 men at Brest. 
General Marmont is ready with 25,000 men. He will 
attempt to land in Ireland, and will be under Marshal 
Augereau's orders. The Grand Army at Boulogne will 
embark at the same time, and do everything that is 
possible to effect a landing in Kent. You will instruct 
Marshal Augereau to act according to circumstances. 
If the information I have obtained from Irish refugees, 
and from emissaries to Ireland, is verified, a number of 

* There was a question of surprising the English," to compel their navy to 
make a diversion. 


Irishmen will flock to our standard on his landing ; in that 
case he will march straight on Dublin. If, on the other 
hand, there should be any delay in the rising, he will take 
up a position where he can be joined by General Marmont, 
and wait until the Grand Army has effected a landing. 
The navy holds out hopes of being ready by October 22nd ; 
the land forces also will be ready by that date. Marshal 
Augereau will especially require a good commander of 


On September 29th, 1804, he wrote to Vice- Admiral 
Decres, concerning the scheme for invading Ireland : 

" The point which you suggest for a landing place 
seems to me the most suitable. The north, and the Bay 
of Lough Swilly is, according to my notion, the most 
convenient. The expedition must sail from Brest, 
double Ireland, keeping out of sight of the coast, and 
approach, as any ship would do, coming from Newfound- 
land. I am speaking merely from a political and not 
from a nautical point of view, as the selection of a spot 
for landing must depend on the currents. Politically 
speaking, it would be more advantageous to start the 
attack in Scotland instead of farther south ; such a 
manoeuvre would disconcert the enemy. Thirty-six 
hours after casting anchor, the squadron must put to 
sea again, leaving the brigs and all the transports. The 
Volontaire's guns will be in the hold, and the army can 
make use of them either for a coast battery or for any 
unforeseen event. On all these matters I agree with 

" But the landing in Ireland can only be a preliminary 
step ; if it were to form an operation by itself, we should 
be running great risk. The squadron, therefore, after 


being reinforced with all the able seamen off the 
transports, must enter the Channel, make for Cherbourg, 
where it will be informed of the situation of the Boulogne 
army, and ' protect the passage of the flotilla.' If, on 
reaching Boulogne, the winds happened to be contrary 
during several days thereby forcing the squadron to 
pass the Straits it would make for Texel ; there it would 
find seven Dutch ships with 25,000 men on board, and 
would escort them to Ireland. 

" One of these two operations must succeed, and then, 
whether I have 30,000 or 40,000 men in Ireland, and 
whether I am in England or in Ireland, the advantage 
of the war will be with us. 


However, though Napoleon gave all his thoughts to 
the armaments for attacking England, he had the courage, 
on one occasion, to restrain his warlike instincts and 
make overtures of peace, highly meritorious on his 

The document relating to this incident (January 2nd, 
1805) is in the Archives of the Empire, and is a letter 
addressed by Napoleon to his " Brother, the King of 
England." It is sufficiently important to be given in 
its entirety. It was taken by a captain in the navy 
on board a brig of the English squadron before Boulogne, 
and was forwarded to Lord Harrowby, Under-Secret ary 
of State for Foreign Affairs. 


" Called by Providence, and by the voice of the 
Senate, the people and the army, to occupy the throne 
of France, my chief desire is for peace. France and 
England are wasting their wealth. The struggle between 


them may last for years. But are their respective 
governments fulfilling their most sacred duty ? And 
all the blood which has been so ruthlessly shed, for no 
particular purpose, does it not accuse them in their own 
conscience ? I see no dishonour in taking the first step. 
I think I have given sufficient proof to the world that 
I dread none of the risks of war ; indeed I have no reason 
to dread them. Peace is my most earnest wish, but war 
has never proved adverse to me. I entreat your Majesty 
not to deny himself the satisfaction of giving peace to 
the world. Do not leave that satisfaction to the enjoy- 
ment of your children. Circumstances were never so 
favourable, nor the time ever so propitious, for calming 
passions, and listening to the dictates of humanity and 
reason. Once let this opportunity pass, and who can 
say when the war, which all my efforts were powerless 
to prevent, is likely to cease ? Within the last ten years 
your Majesty has acquired vast wealth, and an extent of 
territory larger than that of Europe. Your nation is at 
the height of prosperity. What can you hope to gain 
by war ? Form a coalition of several powers on the 
Continent ? The Continent will remain quiet, for a 
coalition would serve but to increase the ascendancy 
and the power of France on the Continent. Revive 
internal dissensions ? Times have changed. Ruin our 
Finance ? Finance based upon a prosperous agriculture 
cannot be destroyed. Deprive France of her colonies ? 
Colonies, as far as France is concerned, are but of secondary 
importance ; and has not your Majesty already more of 
them than can well be managed ? If your Majesty will 
but consider the question, you will agree that you have 
nothing to gain by war. And what a melancholy prospect, 
that nations should war with each other simply for the 
sake of fighting ! The world is large enough for our 
two nations ; and reason should have sufficient influence 


to enable us to conciliate our differences, if there be a 
sincere wish on both sides to do so. At all events, I have 
now fulfilled a sacred duty. I trust your Majesty will 
believe in the sincerity of my sentiments, and my earnest 
desire to give a proof thereof. 


On January I4th the English Government sent the 
following reply to these courteous advances : 

" His Majesty deems it impossible to give any par- 
ticular reply to the overtures he has received, until he 
has had time to communicate with the Continental 
powers, with whom he has engaged in diplomatic rela- 
tions and alliances ; especially with the Emperor of Russia, 
who has given the strongest proofs of wisdom and dignity, 
and of the interest he takes in the safety and independ- 
ence of Europe." 

This was but a thinly veiled threat to form a new 
coalition, and Napoleon saw through it. ' The prepara- 
tions for the invasion were therefore pushed on with in- 
creased activity, and he issued a multiplicity of orders, 
of which I give a few typical examples. 

On August i3th, 1805, he wrote to Vice-Admiral 
Villeneuve from the camp at Boulogne : 

" I conclude that my arms have been victorious 
since you put into Corunna. I trust this despatch may 
not find you there still, and that by the time it reaches 
you, you will have repulsed the enemy's cruisers, so as 
to effect a junction with Captain Allemand, sweep every- 
thing before you, and arrive in the Channel, where we are 
anxiously awaiting you. If you have not already done 

this, do it ; make straight for the enemy If you 

are here for three days, indeed if you are here only for 


twenty-four hours, your mission will be accomplished. 
Send a special messenger to Admiral Ganteaume, to 
inform him of your departure. At all events no squadron 
will ever have run any risk to attain so great an end, and 
never will my soldiers and sailors have sacrificed their 
blood for a nobler and more glorious aim. Well might 
we all be willing to die without regret in the grand cause 
of accomplishing the invasion of that country which has 
oppressed France for six centuries. 


On August 20th he wrote to Decres : 

" I do not know what may be the issue of all this, 
but you see that, in spite of adverse chances and many 
unpropitious circumstances, the nature of the scheme is 
fundamentally so sound that we shall have the advantage 
on our side." 

On August 22nd, 1805, he wrote a letter to Vice- 
Admiral Ganteaume, of which the following is an extract : 

" I wish you to put to sea at once, for the fulfilment 
of your mission, and to proceed with all your forces to 
the Channel. I rely on your talents, your determination, 
and your strength of character, at this most important 
juncture. Start at once, and come here. We shall have 
avenged the insults of six centuries. Never have my 
soldiers and sailors risked their lives in a nobler cause." 

On the following day, August 23rd, the Emperor 
wrote a letter to Talleyrand, showing that he was already 
preoccupied with the new coalition which was preparing, 
but had not yet given up his scheme of invasion : 

" If my squadron follows my instructions in uniting 
with the Brest squadron, and penetrating into the Channel, 
we have still time, and I shall be master of England. 


If, on the contrary, my admirals hesitate, manoeuvre 
badly and fail to accomplish their object, nothing remains 
for me but to wait till winter before crossing the Straits 
with the flotilla." 

However, in the same letter, alluding to the hostile 
attitude of Austria, he announced his intention of ad- 
vancing on Germany with his formidable Boulogne army. 

At this period, after receiving a telegraphic message 
transmitted by the signals, the Emperor went to the 
" Right Camp." " And there," says Constant, in his 
" Memoirs," " he read out before the troops a proclama- 
tion, which was carried to the other camps and posted up 
everywhere : 


" ' You are not going to England. The Emperor 
of Austria, bribed with English gold, has just declared 
war with France. His army has crossed the line it was 
to keep ; Bavaria is invaded. Soldiers, new laurels 
await you beyond the Rhine ; let us hasten to vanquish 
the enemies we have already conquered.' ' , . - 

" It was with bitter grief and anger at his heart that 
Napoleon had to give up all hopes of seeing his fleet in 
the Straits. His irritation was such that Monge, the 
scientist, who breakfasted with him, in military fashion, 
at the pavilion almost every day, fearing lest his presence 
might be inopportune, retired discreetly to the quarters 
of Daru, principal Commissioner of War." 

" It was in the pavilion at the Boulogne camp," 
according to the authors of the " History of Boulogne," 
" that Napoleon dictated in a moment of inspiration 
his plan for the glorious campaign in Germany, pointing 
out, by a sort of divination, each of the victorious stages." 

Just as Monge had presented himself at Daru's 


quarters, the latter was summoned to the presence of the 

After giving free vent to his indignation at the ruin 
of his scheme for invading England, Napoleon suddenly 
calmed down, and for several hours on end " dictated 
the marvellous campaign of 1805, with an extraordinary 
presence of mind, and exactitude of details." 

Two months later, when the Emperor's forecasts were 
being realised so marvellously, Prince Joseph wrote to 
his brother : 

" It is not without admiration that I recall everything 
you were good enough to tell me at Boulogne ; your 
Majesty is punctually realising everything you then 

Finally, on September 2nd, 1805, after prolonging 
his stay on the coast, while the troops were advancing 
by forced marches, and as secretly as possible, upon the 
Rhine, Napoleon left Boulogne. 

A few days later, he wrote from Saint Cloud to the 
Minister of Marine : * 

" What was my object in organising the flotilla at 
Boulogne ? 

" Article I. My scheme was to concentrate 40 
or 50 battleships in the port of Martinique by a com- 
bined operation from Toulon, Cadiz, Ferrol, and Brest, 
and summon them suddenly to Boulogne ; to have 
complete mastery of the sea for a fortnight ; to have 
150,000 men and 10,000 horse encamped along the 
coast ; 3,000 or 4,000 flotilla boats ; and immediately 
on the arrival of my squadron, to land in England and 
take possession of London and the Thames. The plan 
very nearly succeeded. If Admiral Villeneuve, instead 

* Napoleon's Correspondence, 9209. 


of putting into Ferrol, had merely rallied the Spanish 
squadron and set sail for Brest, to unite with Admiral 
Ganteaume, it would have been all up with England. 

" Article II. It was necessary, for the success of 
the scheme, to muster 150,000 men at Boulogne ; to 
have 4,000 flotilla boats and an immense equipment. 
To ship all these forces and supplies, and yet prevent 
the enemy from suspecting my plans, seemed well-nigh 
impossible. If I succeeded in this, it was only by doing 
the very reverse of what appeared the right thing to do. 
If fifty ships of the line were to come and protect the 
passage of the army over to England, we wanted nothing 
more than transports at Boulogne ; and this profusion 
of praams, gunboats, flat-bottomed gunboats, shallops, 
etc., was absolutely useless. Now, supposing I had col- 
lected 4,000 transports only, the enemy would have 
guessed that I was awaiting the arrival of my squadron 
to attempt the crossing ; but, by building and equip- 
ping praams and gunboats as well, I was opposing guns 
to guns, and warships to warships, and the enemies 
were duped accordingly. They thought my intention 
was to cross by main force, and by the sole military 
force of the flotilla. They never guessed at my real 
designs, and when, on the failure in the movements of 
my squadrons, they discovered the danger they had so 
narrowly escaped, there was great agitation in the Councils 
in London, and all intelligent people admitted that 
England had never been so near her ruin. 

" Article III. The scheme was exposed ; the enemy 
saw that the plan was to cross under the protection of 
my squadrons. The works carried out at Boulogne, and 
in the harbours at Wimereux and Amble teuse, with 
which the enemy was perfectly well acquainted, were 
sufficient proof to him that the whole flotilla could not 
get under weigh on one tide. From that moment 


England was free from apprehension as to the flotilla 
being able to cross by itself, since Admiral Villeneuve's 
operations have proved that I was awaiting his arrival 
to cross ; and since her knowledge of our coast has 
shown her the impossibility of getting the flotilla out 
on one tide. And now, the same men who declared that 
the flotilla could not be prevented from landing, say 
that nothing can stop the arrival of 100 to 150 vessels 
on the enemy's coast (making an expedition of 15,000 
to 16,000 men), but that any more important expedition 
than this would have small chance of success. 

" Article IV. Under these circumstances, the Bou- 
logne roadstead being unsuited to the training of my 
sailors, and England being free from apprehension with 
regard to the passage of the flotilla by main force, the 
project will have to be reconsidered. We should have 
to have an army of 60,000 to 80,000 men and several 
thousand horses encamped on the heights at Boulogne ; 
have a portion only of the sailors necessary for manning 
the ships, and, as soon as the squadrons commenced to 
operate, levy the fishermen and sailors all along the coast, 
re-establish the line of ships, embark the artillery and 
supplies in one word, make all the necessary demon- 
strations to show that we were only awaiting the arrival 
of the squadron to cross. 

" Article V. The advantages of this scheme are 
enormous. In the first place, I should always have a 
pretext for having 80,000 to 100,000 men encamped 
in a position which is not only healthy, but very con- 
venient with regard to supplies ; and from which they 
can advance promptly on Germany ; while so large a 
body of men, kept within view of the English coast, 
together with a number of ships which will enable us 
to make the invasion, if I have the mastery of the sea 
for several days, will have a double influence on England : 


" (i) It will oblige her to have troops to guard and 
protect herself against a now possible invasion ; 

" (2) It will oblige her to keep a portion of her fleet 
in reserve, in the Downs or in the Thames, in case of 

" Article VIII. Let us suppose a squadron of 40 
ships-of-the-line arriving before Boulogne, and finding 
an army of 100,000 men and 10,000 horse what could 
it do ? How much time would it require to transport 
the troops, cavalry, and stores over to England ? It 
would take at least ten journeys. Let us now suppose 
that 40 ships-of-the-line arrive before Boulogne, and 
find 500 boats, praams, shallops, gunboats, etc.. 
either equipped or without guns, with all the artillery, 
men, and horses embarked, and that they take on board 
whatever portion of the troops the flotilla is unable to 
carry why, in several days, the whole expedition would 
be landed in England. England will therefore be com- 
pelled to have a land army, and to have a fleet in re- 
serve. Of all the means that one could suggest for 
harming the enemy in this struggle, this is the one that 
would be the least costly for France, and the most 
disastrous for England. 

" Article IX. Having hereby informed the Minister 
of Marine of the part I wish the Boulogne flotilla to play, 
I desire him to suggest the modifications that it will 
be necessary to make, in order that it may accomplish, 
at the least possible cost, the ends that I have in view. 


Perhaps the clearest explanation we have on the 
matter, is the following passage taken from a work on 
. Napoleon by Blanchet, a volunteer of the period : 

" Napoleon deceived the enemy by engaging his 
attention on a sham fleet, in order to divert it from the 


real one, which workmen were building day and night 
incessantly in our yards. It was with this fleet, and 
the Spanish and Dutch squadrons combined, that he 
intended to engage in action with the English fleet, 
while the 2,000 nutshells were transporting our soldiers 
and landing them on the enemy's coast. Then England 
would remember William the Conqueror, and have reason 
to tremble. * If only we are masters of the Straits 
for six hours,' the Emperor wrote to the great seaman 
Latouche-Treville, ' we shall be masters of the world.' ' 

On this subject there should be no doubt namely, 
that Napoleon had no intention of winning naval vic- 
tories with his little flat-bottomed boats ; he meant 
them merely to carry his legions to firm land, where 
they would most certainly have been victorious. Major 
Richer t, of the Staff College, fully understood this 
when he wrote : 

" In 1803, Napoleon determined to deal a decisive 
blow to the great rival of France by invading England, 
and conquering the country. This plan of Napoleon's 
throws a vivid light on the greatness of his genius. His 
conception of the scheme of invasion was absolutely 
sound ; it was an application of the fundamental rule 
of the science of war, that consists in ' opposing the 
strong side to the enemy's weak side, while making the 
best use of the factors of time and space.' Napoleon's 
power lay in the army and continental war ; that of 
England was in her fleet and in naval warfare ; it was 
therefore certainly good strategy on Napoleon's part 
to attack England with his army, and to compel her to 
fight on land." * 

Indeed, the same general idea pervades all the various 
documents just quoted. 

* " Napoleon, Chief of the Army," translated from the German into 
French, 1899. 


The crossing of the Straits and the invasion of 
England could certainly not be classed among events 
of ordinary occurrence, and the enterprise Napoleon 
had planned was altogether exceptional, to say the 

But the French armies, when led by daring and 
experienced commanders, have performed marvellous 
exploits, which, though quite outside the classical rules 
of military science, have led to splendid results. 

That a fleet should be captured by cavalry is perhaps 
scarcely a normal event. And yet the hussar squadrons 
commanded by Pichegru took the Dutch fleet, icebound 
in the harbour of Helder in 1795. 

The extraordinary ascent of Mount St. Bernard, in 
which 30,000 men scaled the heights of 2,300 metres, 
with the whole of the artillery, is not a commonplace 
enterprise either. 

It has been said, as an argument against the First 
Consul's scheme, that the number of men ready to take 
the sea in 1805 was totally inadequate to a serious attack ; 
and that, even if the quantity of boats enabled 167,000 
men to embark, there were not, as a matter of fact, 
more than 90,00.0 taken altogether at Boulogne, Wimereux, 
Ambleteuse, and Etaples. 

Now the total effective of all the troops mustered 
around Boulogne appears at one time to have been 
172,230 infantry, and 9,300 cavalry, according to the 
most authentic estimates. 

The reason that there is such discrepancy between 
the figures quoted by different writers is, that under 
the title of " army of Boulogne," some only include 
those corps which were encamped on the coast, and 
prepared to take the sea ; while others place under 
the same heading, and rightly so, all the garrisons quar- 
tered inland in the neighbourhood, because at the very 


first signal they could have arrived within a few hours 
at the points of embarkation. 

It must be admitted, I think, that an army of nearly 
100,000 determined men, led by a commander like 
Napoleon, could have given a good account of themselves, 
especially in a country that was almost without a regular 

But there is another explanation which deserves 
notice. An old Boulogne fisherman was he a dreamer, 
or particularly clear-sighted and well-informed ? said 
to me once : "If Napoleon collected more boats than 
were necessary to carry the troops, horse, and ammunition, 
it was because he intended taking advantage of a foggy 
day, or a dark night, for the following stratagem a 
number of boats, carrying dark lanterns, were to be 
sent on ahead in a wrong direction ; they were only to 
be manned by a few gunners who were to fire off guns, 
in the dark, to attract the enemy's squadron ; and 
while this was going on, the real flotilla was to have 
attempted the passage." 

Without venturing to draw an absolute conclusion, 
which would be presumptuous, since certain factors are 
wanting, by which we might hope to reach a solution 
of the question, we are justified, I think, in saying that 
Napoleon was convinced of the possibility of the 
descent, and really intended carrying it out, his hesi- 
tations simply bearing on the choice of the plan to be 

And when he subsequently modified his intentions, 
it was because he was compelled to do so by certain 
serious events, and especially by the inaction of 
auxiliaries on whom he was obliged to depend, and 
who disobeyed his formal orders. 

And even at the very time when treachery compelled 
him to divert the Grand Army from the primary object 


or which it had been organised, Napoleon hoped that 
propitious circumstances might enable him to accom- 
plish his design. 

It seems manifest that the admirals, whether timid 
or bold, argued over the orders they received, instead 
of conforming to them ; they judged, from their own 
narrow point of view, the plan of concerted action which 
they failed to grasp, and which was as follows as 
Napoleon had conceived it to compel England, by a 
series of simultaneous attacks, to scatter her forces over 
all the seas, so as to reduce to the minimum the strength 
of her squadron in the Channel, which was her only 
protection against an attack from the French squadron 
and the flotilla. 

To sum up, when the Emperor abandoned his pro- 
jects of invasion, it was not because he had altered his 
mind, but because events had changed ; England was 
transforming her naval and military organisation, with 
feverish activity, to be ready for any emergency ; Austria 
had openly declared her hostility, and Russia was dis- 
posed to enter into the concert of reprisals. As for 
Spain, was she a sufficient ally for withstanding a formid- 
able coalition ? 

At the very time that Napoleon's orders were being 
disregarded, or contested, by timorous subordinates, 
the most serious complications arose on the Continent, 
and Napoleon was forced to abandon his enterprise ; 
but the scheme was none the less, at one time, very 
seriously considered, and every preparation was made 
for it to succeed. 

Must the Emperor be reproached for not having 
risked the invasion, in spite of everything, for the sake 
of keeping his word ? 

We ought rather to praise him for having had the 
courage to abandon a scheme so alluring to his bold spirit. 


Perhaps, after all, his whole thoughts may be summed 
up in the words he wrote from the Boulogne Camp to 
Barbe-Marbois, on August gth, 18.05 : 

" I will not submit the prosperity of my people to 
mere hazard. Undoubtedly, I intend to land in England 
myself, with an army ; but I and my army will only land 
when all the circumstances are favourable." 

After a certain point, boldness ceases to be a virtue, 
it can even become folly. History, therefore, should give 
the Emperor every credit for having withstood a tempta- 
tion so gratifying to his glory ; he was not always so 
well inspired. 

And so, when we read of criticisms a whole century 
after the event, when we find writers asking whether the 
flotilla was not all a pretence, and the Boulogne Camp a 
mere scenic display, we can imagine Napoleon, if he came 
to life again, silencing his critics by one of those sayings 
for which he had a genius : 

" Like Charlemagne, I took my army across the 
Alps ; I reckoned on crossing the Straits with my soldiers, 
like Julius Caesar." 



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